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Stories of Robin Hood

Nottingham is famous throughout the world as the place of Robin Hood's daring exploits. The origins of his legend owe more to folklore and literature than historical record. Versions are found in collections of traditional ballad literature, in popular chap books and in stories for children.

A woodcut illustrates the ballad of Allen a Dale in the 1733 version of 'Robin Hood's Garland, Being a Compleat History of all the Notable and Merry Exploits, perform'd by Him and his Men' (first published in 1663). Readers were told which tune should be used to sing the ballad.

Joseph Ritson's study of the different legends, drawing on earlier ballad collections, appeared in 1795 under the title 'Robin Hood. A Collection of all the Ancient Poems, Songs and Ballads now extant, relative to that Celebrated English Outlaw'. The Longman edition of 1820 omitted part of the original work.

Ritson's authoritative collection of material was heavily drawn upon by subsequent editors.

The expulsion of Robin from his family home has often featured in illustrations of the legend. Here the scene comes from a nursery school publication, 'The History of Robin Hood'. It was published as part of Tabart's Juvenile and School Library (London, 1806).

Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.

Allen a Dale Zoom in

Allen a Dale

Ritson's Robin Hood Zoom in

Ritson's Robin Hood

Robin expelled from his uncle's house Zoom in

Robin expelled from his uncle's house

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