Little John: Facts and Information About the Legendary Robin Hood Outlaw

Here are some facts about Little John.

  • Little John is a legendary outlaw, and friend of Robin Hood.

  • He was Robin Hood’s second-in-command, and a member of his Merry Men.
  • In most stories, Little John is very tall and fights with a quarterstaff. The name ‘Little’ is a joke.
  • Sometimes, in some of the Robin hood tales, Little John’s name used to be John Little.
  • Little John appears in some of the earliest versions of the Robin Hood stories. He is mentioned by both Andrew of Wyntoun and Walter Bower, writing in the 15th century.
  • In a 17th century Robin hood ballad Robin Hood and Little John fight with quarterstaves on a bridge, and this is now the most popular version to explain how the two outlaws meet.
  • Some people believe that Little John is buried in St Michael’s Church graveyard in Hathersage, Derbyshire. Others say that he is buried at Thorpe Salvin in Cheshire.
  • Some Irish legends suggest that Little John once visited Dublin in the 1100s after Robin Hood’s death.
  • Clive Mantle played the character of Little John in the Robin of Sherwood TV series.
  • In the Dick King-Smith book Dragon Boy, it is implied that the main character, John Little, will grow up to be Little John.
  • Some historians have suggested that the real Little John was a man called Reynolde Greenleaf from Beverley in Yorkshire.
  • Other historians think he was originally called John Nailer or John Naylor.
  • Local traditions suggest that Little John’s Cottage once stood on Peafield Lane, between Edwinstowe and Mansfield Woodhouse.
  • In the Robin Hood stories Little John is incredibly strong, brave and an excellent archer.
  • In the 1973 Disney animation Robin Hood, Little John is a bear, voiced by Phil Harris.
  • In Sherwood Forest there is a statue of Robin Hood fighting Little John on a bridge.