Robin Hood is a famous figure of English folklore, whose existence or fictionality is still a subject of debate. The stories about him started off as folk tales transmitted orally (ballads), but by now of course there are many written stories about him. I'm curious about the history of the transition of Robin Hood tales from oral to written form, and I've phrased my title a little vaguely because I think there are several interconnected subquestions here:

  • Roughly when were Robin Hood stories first written down?
  • What is the oldest surviving written Robin Hood story?
  • Is there one particularly important early written text which influenced many of the later/modern versions of the story? (Cf. Malory's Morte d'Arthur for Arthurian legend.)

According to https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/robin-hood, the first literary references to Robin Hood appear in a series of 14th- and 15th-century ballads about a violent yeoman who lived in Sherwood Forest with his men and frequently clashed with the Sheriff of Nottingham. Rather than a peasant, knight or fallen noble, as in later versions, the protagonist of these medieval stories is a commoner. Besides this, I found no answers to your questions.

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