Thomas Hahn, an English professor at the University of Rochester in New York, teaches a research course on "Outlaw Heroes" that includes much material on the legendary Robin Hood. Here are some key aspects of the Robin Hood legend:
Most-asked question: Was Robin Hood real?
Hahn's answer: While historians are looking for some individual to pin the legend on, no one could have done all that is attributed to this legend over the past 600 years. Robin Hood is real in the sense that he's had an enormous impact on culture.
Theme: Most Robin Hood tales have been based on male bonding. Central to the tale: Two men such as Robin and Little John meet, beat each other silly, then become friends for life.
Books: "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" by Howard Pyle in 1883 is the most influential version of the modern story.
Major movies: "Robin Hood," starring Douglas Fairbanks in 1922; "The Adventures of Robin Hood," starring Errol Flynn in 1938. Recent versions include "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," starring Kevin Costner in 1991, and the Mel Brooks satire, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," in 1993.
On TV: Series include "The Adventures of Robin Hood" with Richard Greene, 1955-59; the Mel Brooks' spoof "When Things Were Rotten" in the mid-'70s; "Robin of Sherwood" in the '80s; and "The New Adventures of Robin Hood" in the '90s.