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.)