★ ★ ★ ★
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle | 1883, this ed. 1985 | Signet Classics | Paperback $3.99
The beloved adventures of Robin Hood come vividly to life in this wonderfully illustrated version by Howard Pyle. Deep in Sherwood Forest, the legendary Robin Hood – the brave, good-humored outlaw the whole world loves – proves himself the best in England with his bow.
This is probably Pyle’s most well-known work outside of his legacy that is the Brandywine School of illustration. Actually, this book includes nearly 50 examples of Pyle’s illustration style, either as full-page woodcut (or woodcut style) scenes or ornaments and frames. When I was first learning to draw I just loved copying the art out of this book.
Sure, the book was written in the 19th century and with an exaggerated approximation of 12th century language (lots of “whither hath that knave gone” and “take thou what thou wilt have” and that sort of thing), but it’s actually not a difficult read. The stories are engaging and mostly, well… merry!
This edition also includes an informative Afterward by Michael Patrick Hearn, which was well worth the extra pages for its explanations of the repeated anti-Catholic sentiments (Pyle was a Quaker) and distinct erasure of Robin’s romances in the older versions of his stories (Pyle thought his assumed audience, little boys, wouldn’t be interested).
This book is certainly a keeper, and one I’ll probably end up re-reading again in the future at least a couple more times.
- Read the full book for free at the Internet Archive
- Howard Pyle profile at the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Illustration History website
- The history of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art
Publication information: Pyle, Howard. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. New York: Signet Classics, 1985. Print.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.
This book also counts for my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge.