(7/2/04 9:48 pm)
Does anybody know anything about this Maid
Marian novel from Tor by Elsa Watson? Good?
On that note, I don't know much about the mythic origin of Maid Marian. I know that she's a standard figure in English pantomime/morris dancing, along with the hobby horse, and perhaps she actually predates Robin Hood? Could anyone help me out with a thumbnail sketch?
(7/3/04 4:48 am)
Re: Maid Marian|
Don't know much but my understanding was that she came late to the Robin Hood tales, no? Maybe this means a merging of two different story/folklore traditions?
(7/3/04 10:22 am)
Re: Maid Marian|
I haven't read the Watson book, but I would recommend Theresa Tomlinson's
Forestwife. In this book, Marian is an herbal healer- I don't
know if Tomlinson invented this, or if it provides a clue to Marian's
If you're interested in the Robin Hood legend in general, other
good books are Robin's
Country by Monica Furlong and the Outlaws
of Sherwood by Robin McKinley.
(7/4/04 10:21 am)
Re: Maid Marian|
Not exactly on topic, but I originally misread the subj. head. of this thread as "Mad Marian," who sounded very interesting. Then when I figured out that it was "Maid Marian," my first thought was that running around Sherwood Forest with that particular brat pack of lost boys would be enough to drive her mad. Then I began to see parallels between "Peter Pan" and "Robin Hood."
A propos of not very much...
(7/5/04 3:49 pm)
Which reminds me (and forgive me if this has been discussed on this board before), but since "Peter Pan" is more or less a literary tale not based on any folkloric legend, does it qualify as a fairy tale? It is of course a tale full of fairies, but that's not quite the same thing.
I notice there's no listing for it on the Sur La Lune main site, but it's so deep into the popular consciousness (thanks to Disney & Mary Martin), I wonder if it's spawned a canon of lore unto itself? Does anyone know of any modern books that are offshoots from the "Pan" tree?
(7/5/04 11:33 pm)
Peter and Robin|
Note also that both Robin Hood and Peter Pan run around in green clothing. I've always associated the two stories too, with nothing more concrete than that to hang on to. One female (two if you count Tinker Bell and the Prioress), a bunch of males living in a forest beyond the reach of civilized law...
Yes, my mother, a big Robin Hood fan tells me that Maid Marian was added to RH stories pretty late on. But I also know that she's a stock figure in some kind of English folk traditions that seem unconnected to Robin Hood. I had assumed that meant there was a convergence of two legends, but maybe not...
(7/5/04 11:46 pm)
Re: Peter and Robin|
My one and only scholarly book on Robin Hood is currently packed away. Perhaps I will get to unpack it again in a few months when I move.
One of the sites I have found enjoyable while reading about Robin Hood on the web is Boldoutlaw.com. Here's a link to a short passage about Maid Marian:
I, too, have seen the resemblance between Peter Pan and Robin Hood. However, I have never been a Peter Pan fan but have enjoyed Robin Hood most of my life. But to answer another question, there are two recent novels dealing with the Peter Pan story:
Lost Girls by Laurie Anne Fox
An Unforgettably Magical Novel Inspired by the World of Peter Pan
by Karen Wallace (Amazon link: www.amazon.com/exec/obido...lalufairyt
Neither have been well-received by Peter Pan fans.
(7/6/04 5:57 am)
Thanks Heidi! This quotation "She is often the mythic Green Woman to Robin's Green Man" is pretty much what I was wondering about. Is there a mythic Green Woman figure that MM partakes of?
(7/6/04 5:01 pm)
Re: Green Woman|
According to Simpson & Roud (Dictionary
of English Folklore), Marian first appears as a companion
to Robin Hood's band around 1500. They go on to suggest she may
have been a French import: "'Robin et Marion' had been stock
names for country lovers since the 13th Century."
The morris dance figure is a man in drag called a "Marian," and the link between this figure and the Maid Marian of Robin Hood fame is not clear.
The latest issue of "Renaissance
Magazine" has a small feature on the "historical"
Maid Marian... although I'm not familiar enough with the magazine
to comment on the quality of its scholarship.
btw--Simpson and Roud also have very interesting things to say about Green Men.
in the prairie
(7/6/04 5:39 pm)
Getting off my butt|
Finally walked over to the bookshelf and looked up Maid Marian in
WORDSWORTH DICTIONARY OF PHRASE AND FABLE (1993) The entry is
quite interesting. It lists her as a female character in the "old
May games and Morris Dances, usually as the Queen of May."
She becomes Robin Hood's love in the later ballads, "probably
through the performance of Robin Hood plays at May-Day festivities."
It also notes that the part of Marian - both in the morris dances
and the May games - was often played by a man, as aka Greensleeves
notes. The source listed for this last bit is Greene: QUIP FOR AN
UPSTART COURTIER (1592).
(7/6/04 7:40 pm)
Re: Getting off my butt|
Laura and Greensleeves, thanks so much! That's exactly the info I was wondering about. I don't know much about the Queen of May festivities--is that a holidy of Pagan origin? Where does the Queen of May come from? Hmm...answers just lead to more questions...
(7/6/04 10:08 pm)
Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets|
So I just remembered--I picked up a copy of The
Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. I looked up
Marian and Robin in it and it had a lot of the info I suspected
in it--Mayday rituals, King and Queen of May stuff, etc. Although
it didn't explain why, if Marian is the Queen of May and Robin her
consort the King of May, she enters into the RH mythology so late.
I just picked up this reference the other day at a library sale.
It's a bit old at this point (1986), and it's hard for me to assess
its credibility, scholarship-wise. It's definitely more knowledgeable
than I am, given that most of my "knowledge" of pre-Christian
female divinity aside from the Greek Myths comes from Mists
of Avalon, and I don't feel comfortable citing that! What
do you all think?
(7/7/04 6:53 pm)
Marian & Robin|
Re: Marian's late entry into the Robin Hood cycle. According to
Holt, Marian, the May queen, and Robin Hood were two separate
traditions that converged in the 1500s, probably from Robin Hood
poems and plays being performed at the May Games. The popular May
Games were based on much older pagan spring & summer festivals,
and reform bishops were still thundering against them in the 16th
Century, where they apparently became the natural refuge for the
colorful medieval RH stories.
Holt also mentions the French pastoral play "Robin et Marion," composed in 1283, about the May queen and her lover. This was expanded upon by English poet John Gower a century later (still written in French but adopted into English May Games), but the Robin character was not necessarily Robin Hood until the Robin Hood legend entered the May festivities ca. 1500.
That's what Holt suggests, anyway, in his book "Robin
(7/7/04 9:24 pm)
Marian and Robin|
Thanks so much Lisa! That's exactly what I was interested in.
(7/17/04 7:46 am)
the queen of May and other pagan women|
Marian, I think, is an adaptation of several common British Isle female types. You have the greeen woman- a consort/companion to the fertile green man; the May Queen- traditionally, a virgin who gave either her virginity or her life to insure the crops (not to be confused with the Faerie Queen, also sometimes called the May Queen); the crone- an old wise woman, representative of mid-wifery, healing, and death; and, of course, the Goddess- all things mysterious and generative. Can't say about the Morris dancer- perhaps he fulfills the same role in the ritual. As a combination of these things, Marian's function in the story seems clearly to be the essence of all things female. I have no scholarly backing for this opinion, but it seems obvious to me that Robin needs a partner to balance his strong masculine traits. Marian is just right to be this.
On another note, I never compred Robin to Peter Pan, or even really saw a similarity. I guess because Robin is an adult and Peter is a little boy. Their age difference precludes comparison to me.
(7/18/04 12:27 pm)
Years ago I wrote a Robin Hood story titled "Vivian"--it
appeared in a Marty
Greenberg anthology (timed to publish alongside the very much
ill-performed Kevin Costner Robin Hood--boy was that a chestnut!).
Thanksfully it was later reprinted in one of the editions of Years
Best Fantasy and Horror.
When I did research on the story I was more interested in the folktale of the Linconshire area--most of it about "green folk"--not humans in disguise but various fairy folk living in the fens and woods. I pitched the story from the point of view of a young dryad who basically makes Robin's public career--although quite unwillingly. It was an odd experiment in a way and I can't imagine Robin any other way. I confess my Marion is ordinary--the unknowing "other" woman in his life--and Robin is just an ambitious and not terribly truthful man.