'Sette on foote with gode Wyll': Towards a Reconstruction of Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham

  • Alexis M. Butzner Fordham University


Tales and plays of Robin Hood have permeated Anglophone culture since his earliest appearance in literature, and in a manuscript fragment of the late fifteenth century, the legend finds incarnation in a short drama known by most scholars as Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The text contains no indication of scene-divisions or stage directions, and does not offer any notation to indicate the identity of any speakers. Though the mystery of the text has invited many interpretations, the previously published editions of Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham have failed to resolve some crucial difficulties that arise in the play. This paper offers a new version of the play that allows for the interplay of text and improvisation, reads the piece as a single and complete play text, and attempts a reconciliation of the inconsistencies apparent across the existing published reconstructions.