The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

by Howard Pyle

Hardcover, 1925



Local notes

398.2 Pyl





Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925. 296 pages. Illustrated by Howard Pyle. $30.00.


Recounts the legend of Robin Hood, who plundered the king's purse and poached his deer and whose generosity endeared him to the poor.


Original publication date


Physical description

296 p.; 5 x 0.71 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
This book and I go back a long way, as I was eight years old at the time we first met, and the book, published in 1883 was only sixty-four. We've both seen more years since then. Pyle's redaction of the major Robin Hood Ballads still holds up well and is still suitable as a child's (or an adult's)
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introduction to the Canon. The art, is very good.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood try to explain the life of Robin Hood, notorious English outlaw and folk hero, starting from his youth, in which he gets his riches and livelihood yoinked by a mean uncle, to his eventual life of benevolent larceny.

Pyle made the effort of compiling the ballads of
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Robyn Hode, taking the collection of existing literature and composing a sort of biography of this mythical hero. And he did this before it was cool. Since then, Pyle’s book has been considered by many to be the definitive Robin Hood collection.

He tells the stories of not only how Robin Hood came to be, but also how he managed to recruit his Merry Men (hint: he challenges them to a fight and then is thoroughly walloped), and follows his exploits against the Sheriff of Nottingham, the clergy, and Prince John (among other nobles).

I enjoyed this collection of tales, with the exception of the last two, which were somewhat depressing, and found that though the still bear the flavor of the era in which they were written (e.g., most female characters are given little roles that tend to not last beyond a single chapter), these stories are perfectly readable.

Some of them may be too grim for small children, but for the well-adjusted teen or adult, many of the stories leave the reader laughing, and sometimes at Robin’s own folly.

While this book alone would not be sufficient to elevate Robin Hood to folk hero status, if you are in any way interested in one take on his life, be sure to read Pyle’s compilation. It’s in the Public Domain, so it’ll only cost you your time.
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LibraryThing member Pferdina
Another favorite childhood book of mine, these are no Disney tales scrubbed clean for tiny tots. The tales contained in this volume are hearty and full of cracked pates and naughty knaves. There is blood, and fighting with quarterstaff; there is also good humor and laughter. The language is stiff
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with "thine," "methinks," "quoth," and other medieval-sounding vocabulary that would be difficult for many modern children to overcome, but I always loved the ancient romanticism it evokes. When the merry men break into song, the songs are complex.

Robin Hood is not portrayed as infallible or always victorious, but his is a lovable character. Although the well-known legend of his deeds states that he stole from the rich to give to the poor, in this book, Robin is quite often described as stealing from the rich and keeping for himself. He does aid those who seek him, but the band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest seem to have more than enough for themselves.

It is told how, as a youth, Robin killed a man in anger and how this event sent him into the forest as an outlaw. Robin's feud with the Sheriff of Nottingham is described in parallel with many other of his brave doings. Many tales relate how various members of the outlaw band were recruited by Robin. Near the end of the book, Robin meets King Richard and is made an Earl. Richard pardons all the merry men and takes Robin with him to London. This is how the book ends, except for the Epilogue which, the author kindly explains, "speaks of the breaking up of things." Not reading this Epilogue, the reader is left with the warm feeling of a good story well told, and believes that Robin (as Robert the Earl) lives happily ever after. There is no harm in that, and many readers will prefer this ending. But for some, like myself, who need to go on, the final fate of Robin is very sad and not at all what the Hollywood film people would like.

Set in the early 1200's in England, much of the animosity of the Saxons for their Norman conquerors is evident. Saxons are described as strong, hard-working, honest, poor people, often with light yellow hair and blue eyes. The aristocracy, especially the clergy, are greedy, cowardly, rich, and fat. However, Robin appears to come from a higher class than the average Saxon. He takes to leading "his" men easily and they treat him as master without question (even joyously). Part of the terms of their service is that he provide them with clothing twice or three times a year, in addition to money, food, and protection within Sherwood. When King Richard makes Robin an Earl, he grants the other outlaws only the status of game-keepers, even Little John who was Robin's right-hand man.

One other thing that readers may find surprising is the almost total absence of female characters. Trained as we are on the feature film versions of the Robin Hood legend, we expect the ravishing Maid Marian to have a larger role in this book. Yet, she is mentioned only twice, and never appears.

The illustrations in this book are fantastic and when I think of Robin Hood it is these color drawings that come to mind. Some are smaller, but most are one- or two-page spreads, showing mainly heroic battles with the men in Lincoln green prominent.
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LibraryThing member fulner
I'm a huge fan of the BBC Robin Hood series, and like well all of the Robin Hood movies I've seen. Yet 20 years after the first time I tried to read Pyle's most famous collection of Hood stories, I still do not like this rendition.

It was written in the 19th century, but in attempt to make it seem
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more authentic the 12th century men are written to speak as if they are in the King James Bible. I don't believe commoners spoke that way then.

Also there are far too many retellings of nearly identical stories. We get it, Robin and his men are much better archers than nearly everyone else, but how many competitions do they really need to win?

I understand that 900 years ago we didn't have photo ID, or biometrics, but was it really that easy to conceal your identify? How can simply wearing a color other than "Lincoln green" be enough? Can the Sherriff of Nottingham be so stupid as to not recognize one of the communities most wanted men "Little John" is the same man who has been serving in his guard for 6 months?

I'm not certain what religion Howard Pyle is, but I suspect that he is a Protestant as he seems to really despise Catholic clergy. While I agree there may have been some corrupt clergy in the 12th century, even his protagonists clergyman "Friar Tuck" is depicted in the unflattering light of being a drunkard.

Previously I had thought that Pyle's Hood was the original, I learned later that he collected and retold much older (and allegedly bloodier) tales. I'm not sure if those are worth getting your hands on, but Pyle's "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" is worth skipping. The production quality of the audiobook was good, which is how this ended up with a two star.
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LibraryThing member SophieCale
While reading this I kept thinking what a shame it was that I hadn't read this as a child because it's just the kind of story I would have loved as a girl. Truthfully, as an adult I still love it. The prologue itself tells you that if you're a sourpuss and like to take things too seriously, you'd
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best stay away. I was always a tenant of "the Land of Fancy" as Pyle calls it, so I was very happy to spend time in between the covers of his book. I found myself laughing and smiling throughout all the many stories. I will say that I did not always understand the jokes Robin and his men made, the language is archaic and it was not always easy reading but it was always enjoyable. Robin Hood was my favourite Disney movie as a child and the Kostner version is still a guilty pleasure of mine, but little did I know how different the actuall adventures from the book were. The only time seriousness comes about is at the end, in the Epilogue, which I loved despite that I cried the whole time I read it. The only thing more I could wish for from this book was to actually hear all the many songs sung in it's pages.
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LibraryThing member flackm
What's not to love? It's Robin Hood and the stories about him are always fun. This is not my favorite version of the Robin Hood stories but it works.
LibraryThing member PirateJenny
One of my favorites since I was a kid. Believe it or not, this is truly based on the ancient ballads it claims to be (I did an undergrad thesis on Robin Hood many years ago, *before* that Costner disaster). It also served as the basis for the Errol Flynn film. It's always fun to go back and
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Not that I have a Robin Hood obsession or anything.
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LibraryThing member 391
This set of Robin Hood tales is closer to the original ballad form than most others - at many points, I could envision a clear narrator/storyteller, performing for an audience. At times, he even addresses them directly and interacts with them. The stories are generally very fun, set up as
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entertainment rather than with a moral lesson or fable or something - hence, a Robin Hood that is more scallywag than hero, and merry men that are, well, merry. My only gripe is that I found it very dry after a certain point, and had to really struggle past the halfway point. It was pretty easy to put down and forget about.
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LibraryThing member revslick
I haven't read it since Jr. High and was surprised at how much modern TV and movies have plagiarized. The book contains collected short stories of the exploits of Roben Hood and his merry men. What makes these trickster tales so amazing is their simplicity and humility. The tales exemplify Jesus'
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teaching on the last will be first and first....last. Even Robin is not exempt from being brought low. The difference between him and those that Robin is rebelling against is his ability to humble himself and even seek help from those that have bested him.
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LibraryThing member momma2
We finished Robin Hood this morning and read through the epilogue. We should have stopped at the end but the kids insisted we read through. Tears all around. Ashlyn was the most affected by the way he died. If he had only died in honest battle instead of being betrayed and murdered. A surprisingly
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poignant ending to a uproariously funny tale. We had so much fun reading this book and reenacting battles. Chapter after chapter Robin proved to truly be a good guy and it seemed that his luck would never run out. We took some consolation in the fact that Robin was reunited with his band before he died. Wonderfully done and as always the original is much much better than any retelling!
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LibraryThing member swanroad
Can you imagine a family sitting around the MP3 player and listening to a great book for an hour each night after a nutritious dinner? In that scenario, this would be the book that lovely family (or just you and your cat) is listening to. My favorite narrator, Simon Vance, nails it once again with
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this unabridged classic. Listening to this might be the best 9 hours you've ever spent
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LibraryThing member JDHomrighausen
Great fun. I remember loving Robin Hood as a kid but at 21 it's still tops. According to the afterward Pyle was the first modern reteller of the Robin Hood tales. Robin is a merry trickster, and the episodic tales of his noble doings are great for any age.
LibraryThing member Davidgnp
Reading this took me right back to my childhood. I remembered just about every encounter including the first meetings of Robin with Little John, and Robin with Friar Tuck (tremendous fun), the hoodwinking of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Robin's fight to the death with Guy of Gisborne. There is
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not a great deal of depth in the stories, and the sun always seems to shine in the greenwood, but for sheer high-spirited adventure these are hard to beat. Howard Pyle's diction is faux-medieval but that's part of the reading fun. I missed not having his illustrations in my free Kindle edition (looked them up later on Google Images to remind myself) but that's a limitation of the Kindle, and who can really carp over a freebie?
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LibraryThing member finalcut
This is the first book I've read on my Kindle. I was able to download it for free from Google Books and I'm glad I did. To tell the truth I didn't even know this was a book until I stumbled across it. I guess I should have known better but it just never showed up on my radar before now.

The title of
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the book is the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood for a reason; it is more of a series of short stories featuring Robin and his band of Merry men than one long story about Robin. If you've seen any of the Robin hood movies you've seen a couple of the short stories merged into one longer whole but, for the most part, there are a lot of Robin's tales you haven't' experienced yet.

My favorite Robin Hood movie is the animated Disney classic. It incorporates a couple of the merry adventures, such as the archery tournament; but, interestingly Prince John (the phony king of England) isn't really a problem for Robin most of the time. Instead, the Sheriff of Nottingham is. However, even the Sheriff isn't really all that evil and instead is just incompetent and a bit afraid of Robin.

Interestingly I'm glad I had just finished Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" before reading this as I had a better understanding of the roles of various religious figures as well as what it meant to be the Sheriff.

The language, while often archaic, is pretty easy to read and understand and the book, as a whole, was fun. I recommend it.
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LibraryThing member srboone
Wonderfully written and illistrated version of the Robin Hood tales. A joy from beginning to end.
LibraryThing member SeraphinaC.B4
In the book Robin Hood many short stories are brought together to describe how Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor. One story, “Robin Hood and the Tinker”, is like many others in how a rich person is invited to dine in Sherwood Forest. After feasting together and before company
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left, Robin would take at least half the money the rich man carried. Of the half that Robin took, half of that would go to charity. Another chapter, “Robin Turns Beggar”, shows how Robin often went out in beggar’s clothing to befriend false beggars and took from them for cheating honest people. The book ends with Robin becoming ill. He dies from being bled too long by his cousin.

I thought this book was good because it had a lot of interesting parts. I thought some parts were very adventurous. It made me feel like I was there. It was great feel good book because the poor where better off with Robins help. A downside was that it had a lot of filler sentences and at times became tiresome to read. Also it had a lot of names of characters who weren’t important which made following characters difficult. I would recommend this book to any one that likes old English and adventure.
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LibraryThing member amandahnorman
While there are enjoyable anecdotes in the book that show Robin as a loyal and generous friend and there are amusing anecdotes when an evil-doer gets his due, many of the tales are not appropriate for children. In one particular instance, Robin Hood takes revenge on a bloodthirsty man who was
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trying to serve a warrant for Robin's arrest, by pretending to be someone else, taking the man to an inn, spiking the man’s drink, and leaving him with the bill. The emphasis on fighting, drinking and taking revenge doesn’t sit easy with a modern reader. Furthermore, the antiquated language would make this a very challenging book for modern children. Lastly, the gender stereotypes, lack of female characters, and anti-Semitism of the book mean that I would not recommend it to children.
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LibraryThing member Bestine
Howard Pyle's illustrations, though surprisingly dark, are absolutely without peer.
LibraryThing member amandahnorman
While there are enjoyable anecdotes in the book that show Robin as a loyal and generous friend and there are amusing anecdotes when an evil-doer gets his due, many of the tales are not appropriate for children. In one particular instance, Robin Hood takes revenge on a bloodthirsty man who was
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trying to serve a warrant for Robin's arrest, by pretending to be someone else, taking the man to an inn, spiking the man’s drink, and leaving him with the bill. The emphasis on fighting, drinking and taking revenge doesn’t sit easy with a modern reader. Furthermore, the antiquated language would make this a very challenging book for modern children. Lastly, the gender stereotypes, lack of female characters, and anti-Semitism of the book mean that I would not recommend it to children.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
While appreciating the historical significance of this established collection of Robin Hood tales, I found it interesting only on that basis. The Robin Hood stories appeared in several plays and books dating back to the 1300's. Pyle collected them and wrote them as children's stories, creating as
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much of an established story line as exists (even though it lacks key elements seen elsewhere). The adventures paint a picture of Robin Hood inclusive of the skill, mirth, and wit we associate with the legend. He still only rarely emerges as a dynamic character. There are a few times he shows flares of outrage or exhibits immature choices. The tales each stand on their own, with little development over time. It's more like reading a series of half-hour cartoons than an epic. What I liked best were the elements of 13th century life and culture. It was still hard to read such length without story.
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LibraryThing member Greymowser
Felll in love with Robin Hood as a kid. A classic story. Love Pyle's illistrations.
LibraryThing member she_climber
Tried to listen to as a family and nobody could really get into it.
LibraryThing member zjs
i loved this book
LibraryThing member GlenRH
Anon, presently I shall tell thee of reading merrily. I prayth thee to read in sooth a tale that anon whilst per chance entertain. I love that old speech! I read this the first time in about the 7th grade and I had forgot the ending. It might not be pc today, but is definitely that way things tend
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to turn out.
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LibraryThing member kakadoo202
After a whilenit gets repetitive. Old english writing. Slow to read.




½ (491 ratings; 3.9)
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