One more post before I have a mini blog hiatus for the Memorial Day Weekend.
What with the new Robin Hood film out, people have been harking back to versions of yore (see, for example, this episode of On Point from NPR in which film critic and historian David Thomspon and professor of English from Cardiff Stephen Knight discuss the legend of Robin Hood and its various incarnations in film). Hanna and I have been remembering with fondness the 1973 animated Disney version. My brother and I spent several years of our childhood — the ones in which we were not playing Redwall, Swallows & Amazons or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian (she kicked ass, in case anyone feels this is an open question), and our interpretation was heavily, heavily influenced by the singing animals in this particular adaptation.
I adored Maid Marian and at the time (I was maybe six or seven?) we had friends who were on sabbatical in England. So my father, an amateur calligrapher, penned a letter from Maid Marian of Sherwood Forest and mailed it to them to post back to me postmarked from England. It was on pink stationary, I remember, in an airmail envelope with a postage stamp bearing the head of Queen Elizabeth. I kept that letter in my treasure box for many, many years. In fact, it’s probably still filed away somewhere in my parents’ attic, in the box of Precious Things To Rescue In Event of Fire.
Ahem. Anyway. Hanna discovered earlier this week that she had part of the song (all she could remember) of “The Phony King of England” song stuck in her head — so here to make sure that everyone else gets it properly stuck in theirs as well is yours truly.
In addition to Disney’s retelling, of course, there are lots of other Robin Hoods to pick from — including (I’m a librarian after all!) book versions. Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood is a classic, and I personally enjoyed Theresa Thomlinson’s Forestwife, which is a retelling of the legends from Marian’s point of view. For the “real,” legend cycle versions, my mother read to us from The merry adventures of Robin Hood of great renown, in Nottinghamshire, illustrated by Howard Pyle.
There was also the Song of Robin Hood, a songbook published in 1947 and illustrated in minute detail by Virginia Burton. My mother played and sang the songs for us, but as children we were most absorbed by the detailed picturework around each page of music, which dramatized the stories in sequential panels like tiny comic books without words.
So go forth and enjoy Robin Hood in all his many incarnations! Happy Friday and have a wonderful long weekend. I’ll be blogging again next Tuesday.