Robin Hood the Brute: The Outlaw in Eighteenth-Century Criminal Biography

This is a copy of the paper that I presented at the International Association for Robin Hood Studies ‘Outlaws in Context’ Conference, 30 June – 1 July 2015.

Robin Hood’s Grave

According to the legend, in old age Robin Hood fell ill and went to visit his cousin, who was the Prioress of Kirklees, so that he could be bled. However, his cousin conspired with her lover, Sir Roger of Doncaster, to kill Robin. So she opened a vein, locked Robin in the upper room of the gatehouse, and let him bleed to death.

Robin Hood Staffordshire Figurine

During the nineteenth century, various authors such as John Keats, Sir Walter Scott, and Thomas Love Peacock transformed Robin Hood into a morally safe figure; a respectable outlaw hero with whom the Victorian middle classes could identify. It was not purely in literary texts that Robin Hood’s respectable status was exhibited, however, but also in material culture.