Fans of outlaw stories, if they were ever able to time travel, might travel back to the 1820s and 1830s when Victor Hugo’s outlaw drama premiered.
Almost all western societies hold in reverence two “anonymous” figures: the worker and “the unknown soldier.” Ernst Jünger would have us venerate a third figure: The Forest Rebel. The Forest Rebel has been present in nearly every society and is a symbol of resistance to tyranny.
It would have fallen to the lot of a poorly paid Victorian governess to practice playing Robin Hood with children in the nursery.
As Du Vall approached the carriage he and looked into the window flashing his huge pistol, he exclaimed: “Those eyes of yours, madam, have undone me. I am captivated with that pretty good-natured smile.”
Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley were outlaws who were as famous as Robin Hood. Now they’re entirely forgotten!
This poem, written by Robert Southey in 1791, has never been seen before by Robin Hood scholars. It is taken from the manuscript of a novel, currently unpublished, written by Robert Southey in 1791.
“There are two kinds of immortality: that which the soul really enjoys
after this life, and that imaginary existence by which men live in
their fame and reputation. The best and greatest actions have proceeded
from the prospect of the one or the other of these; but my design is to
treat only of those who have chiefly proposed to themselves the latter
as the principal reward of their labours.”
Through the centuries, many poets have turned their hand to writing about Robin Hood. In the 1740s, at the height of the neoclassical movement in English culture, John Winstanley reimagined Robin Hood as a classical archer who competed with Apollo.
The following poem, simply titled ‘Robin Hood’ appeared in “The Oriental Observer” in 1828.
“I will warn him that he will not find my robbers such romantic, generous characters as those who occasionally figure in the fields of fiction. He will meet with men strangers to that virtue of robbing the rich to give to the poor. They give to the poor indeed, but it is as spies and instruments of their own crimes, or at least in order to avoid detection.” –Charles Macfarlane, 1833.
Pierce Egan’s “Quintin Matsys” is like the Belgian “Les Miserables”; the people of Antwerp rise up and take to the barricades to overthrow the evil aristocrats who oppress them.
In the earliest medieval poems, Robin Hood is devoted to the Virgin Mary. While this may seem odd, many thieves in medieval Europe had an attachment to her.
Robin Hood hated the sheriff of Nottingham and everything he stood for, but that doesn’t mean that he objected to the sheriff keeping law and order.
Did film completely destroy the market for Robin Hood books? Perhaps not as quickly as we might think.
Pierce Egan’s “Robin Hood” was an early Victorian bestseller. In the first edition, Egan also appended a collection of Robin Hood ballads alongside his novel, for which he provided the illustrations.
Joseph Ritson stated that the poem was “a dull performance and scarcely merits the care of a modern impression.”
Contrary to stories of Robin Hood, an outlaw’s life was not a merry one: in the 1820s, banditry in Italy was rife; at this time, a young travel writer named Charles Macfarlane was touring the country and managed to obtain a rare interview with one of these brigands.
By Stephen Basdeo. The popular song “Mack the Knife” was based upon the story of an eighteenth-century highwayman named Captain Macheath. This post traces the literary life of this fictional character.
In the archvies of the Bodleian Library, Oxford there is a hitherto neglected Robin Hood novel by Robert Southey entitled ‘Harold, or the Castle of Morford’ (1791). This post is a short introduction to this text.
Salvatore Giuliano was the last true outlaw in history. Known as the Robin Hood of Sicily, he stole from the rich to give to the poor.
Oleksa Dovbush was an outlaw/freedom fighter who robbed from the rich to give to the poor.
Robin Hood was not the only famous law breaker in medieval times. Alongside Robin Hood were figures such as Adam Bell and the subject of this blog post, the medieval pirate Thomas Dun.
“I had four blak arrows under my belt, Four for the greefs that I have felt, Four for the number of ill menne, That have opressid me now and then.”
When William Hawke moved to London in the 18th century, little did he know that he would fall in with the criminal world, be transported to America, return to London and be hanged.