Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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As a child Tennyson loved to read and was writing poetry at an early age. At the age of 12, he wrote a poem that was 6,000 lines long.Tennyson attended Trinity College, Cambridge where he became friends with a historian, Henry Hallam. He and joined a club called ‘The Apostles’.The ‘Tennyson Trail’ is a 210 km walking route in Lincolnshire, taking in many of the sites associated with his childhood. There is also a trail on the Isle of Wight, where he lived. He has been described as being the saddest of English poets.

"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

Born on August 6, 1809, in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England.In the 1820s, however, Tennyson’s father began to suffer mental breakdowns that were due to alcoholism. One of Tennyson’s brothers had violence with his father, another was confined to an insane asylum, and the other became an opium addict.

In 1830, Tennyson published Poems, "Chiefly Lyrical" and in 1832 he published a second volume entitled simply "Poems". Some reviewers labeled these books as “affected” and “obscure.” Tennyson, stung by the reviews, would not publish another book for nine years. In 1836, he became engaged to Emily Sellwood. When he lost his inheritance on a bad investment in 1840, Sellwood’s family called off the engagement. In 1842, however, Tennyson’s Poems in two volumes was a tremendous critical and popular success. In 1850, with the publication of In Memoriam, Tennyson became one of Britain’s most popular poets. He was selected Poet Laureate in succession to Wordsworth. In that same year, he married Emily Sellwood. They had two sons, Hallam and Lionel.

The 1832 Poems was a great step forward literarally and included the first versions of some of Tennyson's greatest works, such as "The Lady of Shalott," "The Palace of Art," "A Dream of Fair Women," "The Hesperides," and three poems made in the Pyrenees, "Oenone," "The Lotos-Eaters," and "Mariana in the South." The volume is famous for its consideration of the opposed attractions of infamous creativity and social involvement. The former usually turns out to be the more attractive course, since it reflected Tennyson's own concerns, but the poems demonstrate as well his feeling of frustration in being cut off from his love intrests by the demands of his art.

The two volumes of Poems (1842) were destined to be the best-loved books Tennyson ever wrote. The first volume was made up of revised versions of the best poems from the 1832 volume, most of them in the form in which they are now known. The second volume contained new poems, among them some of those inspired by Hallam's death, as well as poems of widely varying styles, including the monologue "St. Simeon Stylites," a group of Arthurian poems, his first attempt to deal with sexuality in "The Vision of Sin," and the autobiographical narrative "Locksley Hall," dealing with the evils of worldly marriages, which was to become one of his most popular poems during his lifetime.

Family and Early Life

"Alfred Lord Tennyson." Poets.org. Academy of American PoetsEncyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. N. pag. Print.


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