Friday, April 12, 2013

Five things you might not know about Robin Hood

Please welcome Kay Berrisford to the blog today, with a m/m take on Robin Hood. Sign me up!

This week Lord of the Forest, my m/m take on the Robin Hood legend, was published by Loose Id. I had great fun researching the book, which involved delving back through eight hundred years’ worth of history and legend. Today, I thought I’d share some of the nuggets I uncovered along the way.

One. Everybody’s heard of Robin Hood—but nobody knows if he existed or where he came from.
This seems to have been the status quo since at least the fourteenth century, when rhymes of Robin Hood were already famous. While many claimed to “know” of him, there was no solid evidence confirming who he was, entailing much debate. Though the outlaw is most predominantly associated with Sherwood Forest, the earliest mentions are from Yorkshire, and tales of him hail from all over England.

Two. Robin wasn’t always that much of a hero.
Right from the start, Robin Hood robbed from the rich, but in most early medieval tales, he and his band of outlaws didn’t give any of their ill-gotten gains to the poor.  That said, people still loved him, because he stood up against the tyrannical laws of the Norman ruling classes, whether he shared his plunder or not.  However, some of the stories depicted Robin as ruthless, even brutal. In one medieval ballad, Robin massacred fourteen out of fifteen foresters, because they refused to pay him gambling debts. Then when the people of Nottingham set out to capture him, he attacked. So the ballad goes, many arms, legs, and much blood was lost as a consequence of Robin’s actions. Not quite the noble hero we know and love.

Three: Maid Marian might have been French.
Marian was a relative latecomer to Robin Hood stories, and the earliest mentions of her can be found in the 1500s. So, where did she come from? In France, a completely unrelated Robin and Marian had been characters in May Day celebrations for a couple of hundred years prior. As Robin Hood plays were now becoming part of English May Day festivities, Marian might have been imported to give him a queen of the May.

Four: There is no fixed narrative for Robin Hood.
This is no doubt one of the keys to his longevity.  While we all know what Robin does—hangs out in the greenwood with his mates, robs from the rich, and (usually) gives to the poor—the ins and outs of his story are told afresh every time.  The most famous versions tend to focus upon Robin of Locksley—a knight returning from the Crusades who finds his lands usurped by the evil sheriff, and who fights to reinstate justice for the absent King Richard. But Robin wasn’t depicted as a nobleman, let alone a royalist, till he was hundreds of years old. The name Locksley doesn’t appear till the 1500s, around the same time that the other noble title connected with him reared its head—the Earl of Huntingdon. Robin is also prone to turn up in cameo roles in other stories.  My first encounter with Robin was in a pantomime version of “Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood,” where Robin’s story interwove with the traditional fairy tale.  A famous example of Robin turning up in a classic novel is Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe,” where Robin and his men join with the Saxon hero to fight against Norman tyranny.

Five: There have been over 65 films and TV shows starring Robin Hood.
The first of these appeared in 1908. It is impossible to count how many written and spoken versions of the legend have been created. I can confidently state there must be thousands.

I had great fun writing my version of Robin Hood in Lord of the Forest. He fitted right into my Greenwood universe, inspired my English forest myths and lore (how could I *not* have written his story somewhere?) If you haven’t read the other books in the series—Bound to the Beast (my version of the Herne the Hunter legend) and Bound for the Forest—don’t ye fret! The books can be read in any order, so you can pick whichever you fancy to begin with, including Lord of the Forest, which is chronologically first anyway.  For a summary of characters and background, you can check out my A to Z of the Greenwood universe.

Lord of the Forest (The Greenwood)

England, 1217.  Dark forces are rising. In the Greenwood, foul spirits grow powerful, and greedy barons plunder the lands. Only one man dares fight back—Robin Hood.

Robin’s band of brothers is broken. Now a lone warrior, he denies his famous name and laments the friends and lovers he’s lost. When the fair folk capture Cal, a beautiful young forester descended from the Greenwood’s ancient protectors, Robin rescues him and forges a new alliance.

Despite a sizzling attraction, Robin senses Cal isn’t like his old comrades, and he’s right. Cal’s been raised as a royal spy. He plans to seduce and betray Robin, but can’t harm the man he’s falling hard for. Mistrust and arguments spill into passionate lovemaking, as Cal learns the meaning of loyalty, fighting beside Robin, the only friend he’s ever known. Even the enchanted forest seeks to bind Robin and the returned protector ever tighter.

Their connection will be tested by nature’s wildest forces, Robin’s past, Cal’s lies, and in a baron’s darkest dungeon. To survive, Robin and Cal must admit their love and embrace their true destinies. Only then can they save England and each other—and win their happiness ever after.

Find out more:

Lord of the Forest is OUT NOW. All Greenwood titles are available from 

If you’d like a chance to WIN your choice of any of the current Greenwood novels, Bound for the Forest or Bound to the Beast, in your choice of paperback or ebook—PLUS a $20 Loose Id or All Romance voucher—all you need to do is leave a comment here, including your email (please spell this out e.g. would be katy at yahoo dot com.)  You can enter the draw as many times as you like at the different blogs I visit on my Lord of the Forest blog tour (for schedule visit ). Two runners up prizes will be a choice of any of my back catalogue titles, excluding Lord of the Forest.
Comp closes midnight EST, 12th April. Winner will be announced week starting 15th April.

Thanks to Louisa Bacio for letting me blog here today!


  1. Thanks for the post! I'm not surprised by Robin's popularity but 65 sounds like a lot of representations in film/tv! ;)
    OceanAkers @

    1. It's quite a few, isn't it!!! He's a busy boy :) Thanks for your comment!