Joseph Ritson

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Joseph Ritson (October 2, 1752 - September 23, 1803) was an English author, Jacobin, and an early vegetarian, best known for his collection of works relating to Robin Hood.

Joseph Ritson, more than any other person, is responsible for the transformation of Robin Hood into a champion of Wealth redistribution.[1]


A zealous literary antiquary and critic, was indefatigable in his labours to illustrate English literature, particularly the neglected ballad strains of the nation. He published in 1783 a valuable collection of English songs; in 1790, Ancient Songs, from the Time of Henry III. to the Revolution; in 1792, Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry; in 1794, A Collection of Scottish Songs, in 1795, A Collection of all the Ancient Poems, etc. Relating to Robin Hood, etc. Ritson was a faithful and acute editor, profoundly versed in literary antiquities, but of a jealous irritable temper, which kept him in a state of constant warfare with his brother collectors. He was in diet a strict Pythagorean, and wrote a treatise against the use of animal food.[2]

Early life

Joseph Ritson, son of Joseph Ritson and Jane Gibson, was born October 2, 1752, at Stockton-upon-Tees, Durham.[3]


  1. (1989) Robin Hood. Thames and Hudson, 181–185. ISBN 978-0500289358. 
  2. Cyclopædia of English Literature: Consisting of a Series of Specimens of British Writers in Prose and Verse, Connected by a Historical and Critical Narrative, Volume 2
  3. Joseph Ritson: A Critical Biography