John Leech (1817 – 1864) celebrated caricaturist and illustrator. He was well known for his work for Punch and the illustrations for a book – ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.
In the book , ‘John Leech’ – His Life and Work by William Powell Frith, R. A. he describes Leech’s visit to Sherwood Forest in 1891. ‘ On seeing the old oaks and golden bracken of Sherwood Forest for the first time, close his sketch book, murmured, ” This is too delicious,” and sat back to admire the view. After lamenting that the country might be dull to the artist, he says:
“I soon saw that my anxiety was foolish. It was evidently, as he said, a grand enjoyment to him simply to sit under a tree and rest; to hear the throstle instead of the hurdy-gurdy; to see the sun instead of the smoke. He could only sigh his admiration. Presently he opened his pocket sketch-book, and put a point to his pencil; but he turned from one bit of loveliness to another as he sauntered on, and soon closed his book in a kind of profound but calm resignation. ‘Much too beautiful for work,’ he said; ‘I can do no work to-day.’ So we sat among the bracken, and drank that delicious air….
The stories of Robin Hood obviously inspired his cartoons.
Little John and Red Friar illustration from W P Frith’s Book.