Thank you Sue for giving me this opportunity to talk about Robin Hood.
I’ve just finished a book series The Chronicles of Robin Hood, comprising four individual volumes – Loxley, Wolfshead, Villain and Legend.
In my books I’ve tried to restore the grittiness of the medieval period, harking back to the original ballads. Robin Hood in my books is a desperate character, fighting against injustice – a fight that is still going on nearly a thousand years later.
Then there’s the other Robin Hood, adored by many – a symbol of the wildwood, a green man coming out of an England that was still unspoiled in the early medieval period. The figure of mystery that seems to peek out from behind the greenwood trees or which can be hinted at in the green man carvings in our oldest churches.
When you consider it, Robin Hood is quite a remarkable guy – with King Arthur one of the two essential British myths. For darned near a thousand years, the people of Britain, and then the citizens of the world, have been entertained by his exploits.
He reaches out and says something to us all to this day.
What’s the attraction?
Well, Robin Hood appeals perhaps to the rebel in all of us, the man who’s prepared to champion the poor and powerless against the uncaring rich and powerful. Mind you, if you read the original ballads he’s not quite so selfless. But it doesn’t matter. People need a champion and Robin Hood’s quite a good one.
I think it’s interesting that you could take a medieval peasant away from his plough, transport him through time and put him down in front of a television and let him watch Robin of Sherwood say, or Richard Greene in The Adventures of Robin Hood and he’d get the point. (Assuming he wasn’t overcome by technology or changes in the English language, of course. I frequently am!)
I have always enjoyed the tales of Robin Hood, and my novels have been decades in the making. It probably all started watching episodes of the Richard Greene series. Playing at Robin Hood was always the favourite game in our neighbourhood – in those happy days when children could make a longbow or wield a wooden sword without social services coming round to take you into care as a potential menace to society.
Unlike so many children today, our lives were spent mostly in the great outdoors, where we would vanish for hours on end, building dens and taking massive treks across the countryside. The countryside where I lived became Sherwood Forest during these youthful expeditions.
In the 1980s, the whole myth received a tremendous boost with Richard Carpenter’s imaginative remake Robin of Sherwood, which took the story in such interesting new directions.
In many ways, in the years since my first encounter with the man in Lincoln Green, I’ve led a rebellious life.
I’m sure it all started under the subversive influence of Robin Hood!
Every writer on Robin Hood takes a different tack. Some of my fellow authors portray him as a saint or sinner, or, like me, a mixture of both. Some writers prefer Robin in Barnsdale rather than Sherwood. I chose Sherwood out of sentimentality, I guess.
In some versions, the villains, such as Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff are out and out rogues. My versions aren’t quite as clear cut as that. And I’ve been kinder to Prince (actually Count) John than a lot of other writers. My Robin questions the hierarchy of the society of his time much more than most Robins. And people did – the medieval peasants, yeoman and the masons who built the great cathedrals and castles often had rebellious thoughts.
There have been thousands of interpretations and no doubt there are thousands still to come. We all have our own vision of Robin Hood. The four books in my own Robin Hood series are my view of how medieval outlaws should have been. There’ve been hundreds of other takes on the Robin Hood legend and there’ll almost certainly be thousands more.
If you want to read mine, the novels in the sequence are available in paperback and on Kindle. I’ve written more about Robin Hood on my writing blog.
About the author
There are also the two Inspector Abbs mysteries set in the 1870s, “A Seaside Mourning” and a novella “A Christmas Malice”, and “The Seafront Corpse”, a detective novel featuring Inspector Eddie Chance, which is set on the south coast of England in the 1930s. The sequel is an Inspector Chance novella “The Holly House Mystery”.
John has now completed the four novel historical fiction series “The Chronicles of Robin Hood”. These novels take a gritty and realistic look at the Robin Hood legend. The four books – complete in themselves – are “Loxley”, “Wolfshead”, “Villain” and “Legend”.
He is currently working on the sequel to the Sean Miller thriller “Balmoral Kill”, which will be published in 2019.
Find and Follow John
Books by John Bainbridge
Click the images or titles to go to Amazon
The Chronicles of Robin Hood: Book One
1198 A.D A hooded man brings rebellion to the forest…
Lionheart’s England, with the King fighting in Normandy… For the oppressed villagers of Sherwood there is no escape from persecution and despair. They exist under the sufferance of their brutal overlords.
When a mysterious stranger saves a miller’s son from cruel punishment, the Sheriff of Nottingham sends the ruthless Sir Guy of Gisborne to hunt him down.
His past life destroyed, Robin of Loxley must face his greatest challenge yet. Deadly with a longbow and a sword, he will fight tyranny and injustice, encounter allies and enemies old and new.
The vast Sherwood Forest with its hidden glades and ancient pathways is the last refuge of wolfsheads. Here their bloody battles will be fought, friendships forged and loyalties tested.
Loxley will become Robin Hood. Notorious leader of outlaws. Their daring deeds will become legend in this exciting work of historical fiction.
The Chronicles of Robin Hood: Book Two
1199 AD – The fate of a silver arrow brings blood-soaked terror to the peasants of Sherwood Forest.
England faces uncertainty as Richard the Lionheart falls in battle. Nottingham Castle is seething with intrigue as the Sheriff’s power is threatened and Sir Guy of Gisborne faces an old nightmare.
Robin’s fight is more desperate than ever. Friendships are tested as the outlaws confront a new depth of evil. When even the villagers have turned against him, Robin Hood discovers the true cost of being made wolfshead.
A hunted man – and this time it’s personal…
The Chronicles of Robin Hood: Book Three
AD 1203. Plantagenet England. A gripping historical novel and the third instalment of The Chronicles of Robin Hood.
Robin of Loxley is in exile in the dark forests of the north, when a killing and a betrayal drive him back to his old battleground of Sherwood Forest.
A good man is slain and the full terror of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne is unleashed. With the King in Normandy and a people’s champion dead, only warriors outside the law are there to fight for the poor and desperate.
Outnumbered and surrounded by his enemies, Robin Hood is forced into waging a murderous campaign against the forces of evil.
Fighting against overwhelming odds, the outlaws divided and with a vicious warlord attacking the people of Sherwood, can Robin Hood and just a few of his men hold back the forces of oppression?
The Chronicles of Robin Hood: Book Four
An action-packed finale to The Chronicles of Robin Hood.
AD 1203. Plantagenet England: The mighty overlords of Sherwood Forest wage war against the poor and desperate. The Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne impose a vicious tyranny across the shire.Where is Robin Hood, the leader of the outlaws and rebels? Has he abandoned the persecuted folk of the Forest? As the darkness of winter falls across Sherwood, nobody is sure whether Robin Hood lives or not…Has the revolt against the cruel and powerful overlords been put down at last?
This retelling of the Robin Hood legend takes the tale of the famous outlaw back to its origins in medieval reality and brings the saga to a gripping and bloody conclusion. Men die in battle… but a legend is born.
For these, and many other books by John Bainbridge,
please visit his Amazon Author Page
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