In the name of King Richard and of Research, I found myself reading through Roger Lancelyn Green’s The Adventures of Robin Hood this week. Not what usually makes the cut on a blog such as this, but Robin Hood and all his lore undoubtedly have some fantastical elements worth talking about.
Frankly, the wily outlaw in green was my childhood hero. If you—unknown internet reader—were to peruse the photo albums of my childhood (yes, that’s when ‘albums’ weren’t on our iphone or Facebook), you would find many a photograph of me in the fullest trappings of Robin Hood gear. Despite his less noble, real-life attributes, I had most of Errol Flynn’s character memorized, and still found the movie enthralling each time I watched it. More to the point, this past week I even persuaded my wife to watch Disney’s Robin Hood with me – on our date night no less!
The reasons for all this, outside of nostalgia, are purely academic. I’m doing research for an eventual collection of short stories which retell classical myths and fairy tales. Suffice to say, I filled several pages with valuable research, and also thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with the English speaking world’s favorite outlaw.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (and all the derivations and derivatives, etc) is so much fun, so much adventure and so much daring, it’s no wonder why children and adults continue returning to Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. We love rooting for the underdog, after all. However—while many of the stories/characters were familiar—it must not go unstated that many of them have also been overlooked in popular culture. Exhibit A: Much the Miller’s son. He was a staple in renderings of the 1800s but hasn’t been around much since. Pun intended. Nevertheless, what it comes down to is that I had a blast hanging with Little John and Will Scarlet. I loved to hate Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. I’m still wondering, who is that Black Knight anyway? And I think you would have a blast too. You can even embrace your inner Marxist—you know, redistribute the wealth sort-o-thing—if you want.
If you’re not convinced, I’ll add this: after finishing the novel, I did my mandatory author biography investigation and learned that Roger Lancelyn Green was a member of the Inklings, the writing/critique group with its most famous members being CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to convince Green to published as RL Green. …Just kidding.
Here’s the bottom line: any one who is writing or reading modern myths and fantasies owes a great debt to Robin Hood. So do yourself a favor and set your sights on Sherwood.