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Robin HoodRobin Hood

A Mythic Biography

Stephen Knight

Winner of the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

Narrated by Bob Dio

Available from Audible

Book published by Cornell University Press

The only figure in the Dictionary of National Biography who is said never to have existed, Robin Hood has taken on an air of reality few historical figures achieve. His image in various guises has been put to use as a subject of ballads, nationalist rallying point, Disney cartoon fox, greenclad figure of farce, tabloid fodder, and template for petty criminals and progressive political candidates alike.

In this engaging and deeply informed book Stephen Knight looks at the different manifestations of Robin Hood at different times and places in a mythic biography with a thematic structure. The best way to get at the essence of the Robin Hood myth, Knight believes, is in terms not of chronological and generic progression but of the purposes served by heroes. Each of the book's four central chapters identifies a particular model of the hero, mythic or biographic, which dominated in certain periods and in certain genres, and explores their interrelations, their implications, and their historical and sociopolitical contexts.

Stephen Knight is Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University.


“Knight valiantly conveys everything said and done about our hero Robin Hood since the last quarter of the 14th century: every ballad, poem, novel, opera, movie and TV series — his Disneyfication and feminization, spoofs, lampoons, muppet and politically correct versions included.... Such is the power of myth that this catalogue yokes Robin Hood with Jesus Christ, Buddha, Santa Claus, King Arthur, the Knights Templar, Jesse James, the rural Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, Martin Luther King Jr. and the protean tricksters of North American aboriginal lore.... If a 'Hoodie' ye be, thou shalt sally forth to liberate all the copies thou canst.”

Globe and Mail

“The mythical character of Robin Hood has become an icon through his presence in popular culture for the last 600 years.... Knight is extremely knowledgeable about his subject.”

Library Journal

“Robin Hood, the outlaw and eternal 'trickster,' is still evolving, having long ago transcended his national and historical origins.”

“Stephen Knight's book documents the enormous scope of the myth—revolutionary, reactionary, chivalric, homosexual, patriotic, or whatever the audience will allow, even slapstick...Like any great myth, this is a tale that no one ever hears for the first time.”

London Review of Books

“For those of us who joined the merry-men (and women) of Sherwood Forest when young, Mr. Knight's 'mythic biography' lets us revisit our earlier selves with an enlarged vision of the romance of liberty and equality that attracted us.”

New York Sun

“Knight, in a remarkable and witty study of the formation and recreation of a legend, shows that in times of oppression, Robin Hood has always been there for us as resistance to authority. May he ever fight on.”

Columbus (MS) Commercial Dispatch

“Stephen Knight's astute, readable, and thoroughly researched analysis of the whole history of the Robin Hood phenomenon follows the hero from Sherwood bandit to Hollywood star, leader of an all-male band to object of feminist parody, Crusader to puppet frog. This is a book to be read by everyone interested in the growth of the Robin Hood story, and from which future scholars should take their bearings.”

—Helen Cooper, Oxford University

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks