I Shot the Sheriff: Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Series Novel
How does one reform the infamous Sheriff of Nottingham? Easy. With Patience.
William de Wendenal, the notorious Sheriff of Nottingham, has come to London, finally having wormed his way back into the good graces of the Royal family. Yet, not all of Society is prepared to forgive his former “supposed” transgressions, especially the Earl of Sherwood.
However, when de Wendenal is wounded in an attempt to protect Prince George from an assassin, he becomes caught up in a plot involving stolen artwork, kidnapping, murder, and seduction that brings him to Cheshire where he must willingly face a gun pointed directly at his chest and held by the one woman who stirs his soul, Miss Patience Busnick, the daughter of a man de Wendenal once escorted to prison.
I Shot the Sheriff is based on the classic tales of Robin Hood, but it is given a twist and brought into the early 19th Century’s Regency era. Can even de Wendenal achieve a Happily Ever After? If anyone can have the reader cheering for the Sheriff of Nottingham’s happiness, it is award-winning author Regina Jeffers.
The Foundation Behind The Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series:
With complete artistic license and an abundance of hubris, a dozen Regency romance authors are retelling some of the great stories of literature, setting them in Georgian England and giving these tragic heroes and heroines a happily-ever-after.
In this series where the reader will encounter some of their “favorite,” or should I say, “least favorite” characters found in classic literature. The parameters of the project were quite simple. (1) The story must be a full-length novel of, at least, 50,000 words. (2) Instead of the original setting for the tale, all the stories in this series take place between the late Georgian period and early Victorian, meaning late 1700s into about 1840. (3) Each novel is based on a different tragic character from a public domain novel, story, or poem.
The idea is to provide the tragic character a “happily ever after.” It does not matter if he/she was the protagonist or the antagonist in the original tale, in these new renderings he/she will be the hero/heroine.
In the series, you could meet fallen heroes who have succumbed to vice, greed, etc. He/She could originally have been detested for what values he accepted, but, in these new tales, he redeems himself: His fate changes. He will find the fortitude to change his stars, learn to accept what cannot be changed and move beyond the impossible to discover “Love After All.”
Characters Found in “I Shot the Sheriff: Love After All”
Original Character >>> The Character in My Tale…
The Sheriff of Nottingham >>> William de Wendenal
I grew up reading tales of Robin Hood and his nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham. Therefore, the concept of providing the Sheriff a “happily ever after” was a task I was not certain I could manage; however, I do adore a challenge. As readers, we are not certain if the Sheriff’s character in the Robin Hood tales is based on one particular person or whether he is a composite of several men who held the post of the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and the Royal Forests.
I chose to call my “Sheriff” William de Wendenal, who was a real-life person, a Norman baron living in the 12th Century. De Wendenal was one of the officials charged with overseeing England when Richard I was absent from his homeland, while participating in the Third Crusade. Although we have no record of the land de Wendenal owned, experts assume he was related to a noble family. Some scholars believe he held a joint title with William de Ferrers, 4th Earl of Derby.
A legal document dating to the Middle Ages names de Wendenal as the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and parts of Yorkshire, making him a powerful political force during those years. The document indicates de Wendenal assumed his position in 1190, taking over the duties previously performed by Baron Roger de Lizoures, who, in addition to his responsibilities to the Sheriff position, also served as the Constable of Chester and Lord of Pontefract and Clitheroe, and, therefore, likely lived for a time at Ludlow Castle.
Robin Hood >>> Robert de Lacy, 6th Earl of Sherwood
The first reference to Robin Hood can be found in the poem “Piers Plowman” in about 1370, but the tales, as we think of them today, date to the latter part of the 15th Century. From the 16th Century forward, the different tales present Robin Hood with a title, making him the Earl of Huntingdon, and my first instinct was to name him as such in my tale.
However, in actual history, not fiction, throughout the reign of Richard I, David of Scotland, an heir to the Scottish throne until 1198, was the 8th Earl of Huntingdon. The title of Earl of Huntingdon has been created several times in the Peerage of England. In fact, there is a current Earl of Huntingdon: William Edward Robin Hood Hastings-Bass, 17th Earl of Huntingdon. Therefore, not wishing to make references to the Huntingdon earldom, in my tale, I made the “Robin Hood” character Robert de Lacy, 6th Earl of Sherwood. I chose “de Lacy” because the de Lacy family, in real life, were the Lords of Pontefract, Bowland and Clitheroe, which are mentioned above.
Maid Marian >>> Miss Marian Fitzwater (or Lady Sherwood)
The “Maid Marian” character does not appear in the Robin Hood tales until the 16th Century. She was likely a character associated with the May Day celebrations, probably derived from the French legend of a shepherdess named Marian and her shepherd lover Robin, recorded as Le Jeu de Robin et Marion. The shepherd of the original tale, however, was not an outlaw. The names simply appears to have stuck when the stories were constructed in the oral tradition.
Robin Hood did have a shepherdess love interest in one of his tales, “Robin Hood’s Birth, Breeding, Valor, and Marriage,” whose name was “Clorinda.” Ironically, in the tale, “Marian” was one of Clorinda’s “aliases.”
As one of my college degrees has theatre as a minor, I am basing my “Maid Marian” character and even part of the action of the story on the Robert Davenport play, King John and Matilda. The play dates to c. 1628 and was originally performed by Queen Henrietta’s Men at the Cockpit Theatre. In the play, Maid Marian, who after the first 780 lines becomes “Matilda,” is the daughter of Lord Fitzwater, one of the rebellious barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. For reasons I shall explain a little later in this list of characters, the Maid Marian character in my tale, that is, before she became the Countess of Sherwood, is Miss Marian Fitzwater, the daughter of a baronet.
Will Scarlet (or Scarlett) >>> Gamwell Scathlocke
The character of “Will Scarlet” was part of the Robin Hood tales from the beginning. I chose to use a later ballad, “Robin Hood and the Newly Revived,” which ascribes the name of “Gamwell” to the Will Scarlet character. In this late Robin Hood story, Gamwell has fled his family estate, at age fifteen, after killing his father’s land steward during an argument.
The Will Scarlet character is also known by several variations of his last name, including Scarlock, Scadlock, Shacklock, etc. I chose “Scathlocke” for my version of the tale.
I attributed these characteristics to Gamwell Scathlocke: hot-tempered, spirited, and a skilled swordsman—able to use two swords equally well at the same time.
Alan-a-Dale >>> Sir Allan Clare
Alan-a-Dale did not appear in the Robin Hood tales until the 17th Century. I chose to use the Pierce Egan the Younger’s story, entitled “Robin Hood and Little John” for this character. In Egan’s story, Alan is presented the name Sir Allan Clare, and he is the brother of Maid Marian. The use of “Sir” before Allan’s name during the Georgian era would have indicated the man was either a baronet or had been presented a knighthood for service to the Crown. I have made Sir Allan a baronet and half brother to Marian. In the Egan tale, Allan’s sweetheart is Lady Christabel, the daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who means to marry the girl off to an elderly knight. As you read, you will see how I twisted that bit into my tale.
The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon
The Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon
These two plays were published in the early 1600s and were the first to identify Robin Hood as the Earl of Huntingdon. They are credited to Anthony Munday and were performed by the Admiral’s Men during the Elizabethan era.
King John and Matilda
This is a play written by Robert Davenport during the Caroline era, being published around 1655. It depended upon the plays of Anthony Munday for its action. Many of the scenes in I Shot the Sheriff are based on the scenes in this play.
Here is the early schedule of releases for this series:
The Monster Within, the Monster Without by Lindsay Downs – November 7, 2020 (Frankenstein)
I Shot the Sheriff by Regina Jeffers – November 30, 2020 (Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham)
The Colonel’s Spinster by Audrey Harrison – December 8, 2020 (Pride and Prejudice)
Fated Hearts by Alina K. Field – December 29, 2020 (Macbeth)
The Redemption of Heathcliff by Alanna Lucas – January 1, 2021 (Wuthering Heights)
The Company She Keeps by Nancy Lawrence – January 11, 2021 (Madame Bovary)
Captain Stanwick’s Bride by Regina Jeffers – February 19, 2021 (The Courtship of Miles Standish)
Glorious Obsession by Louisa Cornell – February 26, 2021 (Orpheus and Eurydice)