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The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

By Howard Pyle

“Now,” quoth he, “my bow and eke mine arrows are as good as shine; moreover, I go to the shooting match at Nottingham Town, which same has been proclaimed by our good Sheriff of Nottinghamshire; there I will shoot with other stout yeomen, for a prize has been offered of a fine butt of ale.”

Then, one who held a horn of ale in his hand said, “Ho! listen to the lad! Why, boy, thy mother’s milk is yet scarce dry upon thy lips, and yet thou pratest of standing up with good stout men at Nottingham butts, thou who art scarce able to draw one string of a two-stone bow.”

“I’ll hold the best of you twenty marks,” quoth bold Robin, “that I hit the clout at threescore rods by the good help of Our Lady fair.”

At this, all laughed aloud, and one said, “Well boasted, thou fair infant, well boasted! And well thou knowest that no target is nigh to make good thy wager.”

And another cried, “He will take ale with his milk next.”

At this, Robin grew right mad. “Hark ye,” said he, “yonder, at the meadow’s end, I see a herd of deer, even more than threescore rods distant. I’ll hold you twenty marks that, by leave of Our Lady, I cause the best hart among them to die.”

“Now done!” cried he, who had spoken first. “And here are twenty marks. I wager that thou causest no beast to die, with or without the aid of Our Lady.”

Then Robin took his good yew bow in his hand and placed the tip at his instep. He strung it right deftly. Then he knocked a broad clothyard arrow and, raising the bow, drew the gray goose feather to his ear. The next moment, the bowstring rang, and the arrow sped down the meadow as a sparrowhawk skims in the northern wind. High leaped the noblest heart of all the herd, only to fall dead, reddening the green path with his heart’s blood.

“Ha!” cried Robin, “how likest thou that shot, good fellow? I wish the wager were mine. It was three hundred pounds.”

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Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle (March 5, 1853 – November 9, 1911) was an American illustrator, painter, and author, primarily of books for young people. He was a native of Wilmington, Delaware, and spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.

In 1894, he began teaching illustration at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (now Drexel University). His students were Violet Oakley, Maxfield Parrish, and Jessie Willcox Smith. After 1900, he founded his art and illustration school, the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art. Scholar Henry C. Pitz later used the term Brandywine School for the illustration artists and Wyeth family artists of the Brandywine region, several of whom had studied with Pyle. He had a lasting influence on several artists who became notable in their own right: N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, Thornton Oakley, Allen Tupper True, Stanley Arthurs, and numerous others who studied under him.

His 1883 classic publication The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood remains in print, and his other books frequently have medieval European settings, including a four-volume set on King Arthur. He is also well known for his illustrations of pirates and is credited with creating what has become the modern stereotype of pirate dress. He published his first novel, Otto of the Silver Hand, in 1888. He also illustrated historical and adventure stories for periodicals such as Harper’s Magazine and St. Nicholas Magazine. His novel Men of Iron was adapted as the movie The Black Shield of Falworth (1954).

Pyle traveled to Florence, Italy, in 1910 to study mural painting. He died there in 1911 of a sudden kidney infection (Bright’s disease).


  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883)
  • Within the Capes (1885)
  • Pepper and Salt (1886)
  • The Rose of Paradise (1888)
  • The Wonder Clock (1888), with his sister Katharine Pyle
  • Otto of the Silver Hand (1888)
  • A Modern Aladdin (1892)
  • Men of Iron (1892)
  • Twilight Land (1895)
  • The Story of Jack Ballister’s Fortunes (1895)
  • The Garden Behind the Moon (1895)
  • The Ghost of Captain Brand (1896)
  • Washington (Text by Woodrow Wilson, then a history professor; published in 1897)
  • Story of the Revolution (Text by Henry Cabot Lodge; published in 1898)
  • The Price of Blood (1899)
  • History of the American People (Text by Woodrow Wilson; published in 1902)
  • Rejected of Men (1903)
  • The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)
  • The Story of the Champions of the Round Table (1905)
  • The Story of Sir Launcelot and His Companions (1907)
  • The Story of the Grail and the Passing of King Arthur (1910)
  • Stolen Treasure (1907)
  • The Ruby of Kishmoor (1908)
  • Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates (A collection of previously published material, assembled in 1921)

Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle