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December 05 , 2009

Quicklet on Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Illustrated) (CliffNotes-like Summary)



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I had heard of Robin Hood even before I read about Robin Hood, courtesy my grandmother. After all, the whole concept of a capped archer and his merry men “taking from the rich to give to the poor” was an attractive proposition for a bedside story. It was only later that I realized that even “taking from the rich” amounted to crime of some sorts.

It was some years later that I came across The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Like many before me, and am sure, like many in future, I enjoyed it immensely. From Robin’s transformation from a common man to outlaw, to the many memorable characters like Little John, Friar Tuck and the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham, the book captivated me.

Of course, no description of Howard Pyle’s work is complete without mention of the wonderful illustrations that helped the reader visualize the “merry adventures.” However, I must warn the reader that the language is a bit archaic and may seem difficult at first.


Sourya is a former risk analyst and has worked with several financial organizations of international repute, besides being a professional journalist with several articles published online. After 6 years of work, he decided to pursue his MBA from the University of Notre Dame. He holds a Bachelors in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Information Technology. He is also a member of high-IQ organizations Mensa and Triple Nine Society and am negotiating with publishers to get his science fiction work published.


Howard Pyle is not the originator of the Robin Hood legend; in fact, ballads about Robin Hood have been sung for centuries before Pyle decided to put pen to paper. What Pyle did was to present several stories in a cohesive form, accompanied by beautiful illustrations.

He also altered the content to make the book suitable for a young audience. For example, while the ballads described Robin Hood as a resourceful robber out for personal gain, Pyle represented him as a voice of justice, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor while himself living a life of hardship in the forests.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood was the first novel that Pyle attempted, after he had had some success publishing illustrated poems and fairy tales in New York. The book was published in 1883 by noted New York publisher Charles Scribner's Sons, who have since then, worked with doyens of American literature like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Heinlein and Stephen King.

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