January 7, 2012
If Robin Hood were around today, Paul Buhle believes he’d be right in there with the Occupy movement, although he might struggle to find a forest to escape into when things get hairy.
Mr Buhle, 67, a retired lecturer from Madison, Wisconsin in the United States, has written the book Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero, in which he explores who Robin Hood was and why he’s still a hero today.
The book is a graphic guide and includes comic art and illustrations of the medieval tale.
One collage depicts the Sheriff of Nottingham as a crying baby and another charts the rise of Maid Marian.
For Mr. Buhle, Robin Hood has always been a strong figure throughout his life.
He says: “He was among very few figures in our childhood who we would learn about almost immediately —along with Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh. It made an enormous impression on me.”
Paul’s interest in Robin Hood was sparked further when saw the 1950s TV series, The Adventures of Robin Hood.
“Robin Hood seemed really interesting and wonderful for the reasons little boys think he’s interesting and wonderful—because he’s rebellious and romantic,” says Paul.
The book discusses Robin Hood’s influence on popular culture, not only looking at the many depictions of the man himself, but also at ways in which he’s been recreated in other outlaw stories—including Zorro, Billy the Kid and Jesse James.
Paul lectured in American studies and history at Brown University in Rhode Island and decided it was time to write about the cultural significance of Robin Hood, but he didn’t want it to just be a purely intellectual piece of work like his previous publications.
He says: “As I neared retirement I thought, ‘what is it that I can write apart from these scholarly books that only undergraduates read?’ I stumbled across the idea of comic art books and graphic novels, in my case historical works. It seemed to be a natural way for people under thirty to discuss these kinds of things.”
As well as popular culture, Paul also believes Robin Hood has left his mark in politics, holding a special significance for left-wing artists and activists across the world.
He says: “I think that since Occupy has begun, the figure of Robin Hood has gone shooting upwards. The only problem with a modern-day Robin Hood is whether he would have a forest to escape into.”
Paul’s favourite Robin is in the 1950s TV series, in which Richard Greene plays the outlaw and Alan Wheatley is his nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham. This is closely followed by Sean Connery in Richard Lester’s version, Robin and Marian. Although another Robin holds special memories for him.
He says: “One will always think of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, who was just fabulous.
“Errol Flynn laughing seems to be the singular most popular piece of Robin Hood imagery of all time.”
Paul’s book Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero is available to buy from most bookshops. Paul will be visiting the city in May to lecture at the University of Nottingham.