A Brief History of Robin Hood – Review

A Brief History of Robin Hood - Nigel Cawthorne

A Brief History of Robin Hood - Nigel Cawthorne

Author: Nigel Cawthorne
Publisher: Constable Robinson
RRP: £8.99

One of the latest wave of Robin Hood books and series, this title was published in 2010 and seeks to examine the true tale behind the legend in all it’s forms.

Nigel Cawthorne divides his book into thirteen chapters, each dealing with a specific element of the Robin Hood Legend. The first chapter offers a summary of the early Robin Hood ballads which is an excellent jumping on point – especially for those who may be familiar only with the filmic version of the Outlaw. However, this introduction does seem somewhat a rushed account and there are better presentations of the ballads out there.

The following chapters also offer an excellent introduction into various elements of the legend – from the early ballads through later plays to the Hollywood vision that most are familiar with. Comparissons are made to the exploits of other medeival ballads, including those based on known historical figures such as Hereward the Wake. Chapters focus on The Merry Men, Marian and Tuck (both introduced much later into the legend – similar to Lancelot in the Arthurian myths) and the Sheriff of Nottingham and the notorious Guy of Gisburne.

The book never delves deeply into a subject, rather it wets the toes and indeed whets the appetite for those who wish to learn more about Britain’s most famous Outlaw hero. As a bit of a Hood student myself (this is one of over twenty books I own on the subject, whether re-tellings or historical accounts) was I disapointed with the lack of depth? Far from it. I appreciated exactly what the author was attempting (and succeeded) to do. Additionally, there is enough here to start research for anyone into any of the subjects covered and I found myself discovering new avenues of research myself.

In summary, I’m extremely glad I picked this up at the Robin Hood festival this year. Nigel Cawthorne has written what I think is about the finest introduction to the outlaw band that is currently available and the prose is written in an easy-to-read fashion that keeps the interest throughout.

Rate It: 4 / 5
Dry Slaps: 0
GS Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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