Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Robin Goodfellow

A hobgoblin or brownie (see Elves) whose adventures were a popular element of Folklore in medieval Britain. Shakespeare equated him to Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream (performed circa 1595; 1600), but popular tradition gives him a separate identity. The earliest surviving complete text of his adventures is the anonymous Robin Goodfellow, His Mad Pranks and Merry Jests (1628 chap). RG is revealed as a half-Fairy, the son of Oberon and a country girl. Although RG has the fairy love of trickery (see Trickster) he has no supernatural powers. He runs away from home, has a dream of fairies and wakes to find Oberon has conferred on him fairy powers which he must use to help the needy. He thus enters upon a life of good-humoured trickery (see Trickster), helping the needy at the expense of the pompous or lecherous – clear parallels with Robin Hood. At length, having earned his Rite of Passage, RG is allowed to enter the land of Faerie. His appearance in modern fantasy is usually as Puck. [MA]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.