No question about it, he is a legend rivalling Greek and Roman heroes. Some might even claim Robin Hood upstages King Arthur, Lemuel Gulliver, Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Twist as heroic personalities in the world of make-believe or literature. The Outlaw of Sherwood Forest is not only immortalized in ancient ballads and medieval broadsides. World literature also salutes him. He appears in Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona as well as As You Like It and the two Henry IV plays. Dozens of movies have extended the outlaw’s popularity starting in 1922 with Douglas Fairbanks, ﬁrst to portray him in ﬁlm, while Russell Crowe played the bandit in 2010. Walt Disney also produced an animated ﬁlm, Robin Hood, while Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn starred together in a romantic version called Robin and Marian (1976).
A champion archer and swordsman, Robin Hood, a mythological personality, “took from the rich and gave to the poor.” By the late 15th century, he was universally saluted as defender of all underdogs. His conﬂicts were mainly with the Sheriﬀ of Nottingham whose tyranny upheld a corrupt court led by a corrupt king whose brother, King Richard the Lionheart, a Robin Hood supporter, crusaded in Jerusalem.
By 1795, Joseph Ritson, an antiquarian, had produced a publication with most of the known Robin Hood ballads. This collection universally popularized the hero and turned him into a pulp ﬁction bandit who has delighted audiences for over 600 years. As illustrated on this page, this very charming, 100-year-old cigar box graphically highlights the dressed-in-green Robin Hood, a cultural icon in literature for hundreds of years and also a hero always aligning himself with the poor and a tyrannically suppressed people.