549 Robin Hood

The Silver Arrow (1954)
The Ambush (1955)

These two titles are amongst many people's personal favourites. One of the great English folk-heroes, sales can't have been harmed by the popularity of the ITV series Robin Hood which came not long afterwards. The two books - issued in 1954 and 1955 respectively - followed on from earlier Ladybird story books and were aimed at a slightly older audience. Both clearly drew inspiration from the Errol Flynn portrayal of Robin, particularly where Robin walks into the feast with a deer on his back!.

Both were written by Max Kester, and illustrated in a hale and hearty fashion by John Kenny. Kenny must have fitted in to the Ladybird way of things, as he then went on to illustrate nearly all the "Adventures From History" books through the fifties and early sixties - though his work there was a little less exaggerated. Both original dust-jackets have slightly unusual cover lettering, the book title in white and the words "A Robin Hood Adventure" in blue below, while the first of the two still carried a check list of other Ladybird titles on the last page, it still being possible to fit them all on at this time!

Later when Ladybird phased out dust-jackets, the cover of "The Ambush" was altered. The original front was replaced by one of the inside illustrations, although there is no obvious reason why this should be done. We don't know when they were taken out of print. No more books were issued in Series 549, but in 1978 Ladybird incorporated "The Silver Arrow" title into a later series, Ladybird Children's Classics (740 - Fiction), along with three new Robin Hood stories, "Outlawed", "RH to the rescue" and "RH and the King's Ransom"). The illustrations and text were completely revised.

The Children's Classics series was heavily revised in later years, (without adding a great deal of benefit!) . The four Robin Hood titles were all withdrawn and replaced by a single new book simply titled "Robin Hood" in 1985, with a new story and pictures.

The "Hood" series is a classic example of the many different publications of a successful book, which makes life so difficult for collectors! The earliest editions had blue/white titles, with the words "a Robin Hood adventure" in blue with spine titles running upwards. First editions had a smooth, textured brown inside cover, whereas second editions were on the more familiar "rougher" plain brown with a darker green cover. Later DJ editions had the titles in black with "a Ladybird Robin Hood adventure", inside cover illustration in blue (to match the ladybird pattern on the inside cover) and spine title facing downwards.

Ist edition spotting hints
Silver Arrow SPU CT(Blue/W) COB(T) NIS538(1) DJ(light green) PRP(2/6) 1954

The Ambush SPU CT(Blue/W) COB(T) NIS538(1) DJ(light green) PRP(2/6) 1955