Alfred Lord Tennyson
1809 - 1892
Tennyson - Timeline
1809 -- Born at Somersby rectory,
Lincolnshire, fourth son of the rector.
1827 -- Poems by Two Brothers with 1850 -- In Memoriam published
Charles and Edward. anonymously.
-- Enters Trinity College, Cambridge. -- Marries Emily Sellwood.
1829 -- Friendship with Arthur Henry -- Appointed Poet Laureate.
Hallam. 1852 -- Son Hallam born.
-- Member of the "Apostles," a group of 1853 -- Moves to Farringford, Isle of
young men, at Cambridge. Wight.
-- Receives chancellor's Gold Medal for 1854 -- Son Lionel born.
prize poem "Timbuctoo". 1855 -- Maud; a Monodrama
1830 -- Poems Chiefly Lyrical published.
published. 1859 -- Idylls of the King published.
1831 -- Father dies. 1862 -- New edition of Idylls
-- Hallam reviews of Poems Chiefly dedicated to the memory of Prince
1832 -- Poems published. -- Has first audience with Queen
-- His brother Edward goes insane. Victoria.
1833 -- Hallam dies. 1869 -- The Holy Grail and Other
1838 -- Engaged to Emily Sellwood. Poems published.
1840 -- Engagement broken off. 1872 -- Verse novelettes Gareth and
-- Family moves to Tunbridge Wells. Lynette published.
1842 -- Poems revised; his fame 1875 -- Queen Mary, a play,
1843 -- Entire fortune, 3500 pounds, 1880 -- Ballads and Other Poems
lost on a project to make wood published.
carvings by steam, and his brothers and 1881 -- The Cup produced, starring
sisters lose an additional Henry Irving and Ellen Terry.
8,000 pounds. 1883 -- Accepts barony.
1844 -- Has an emotional breakdown. 1885 -- Tiresias and Other Poems
1845 -- Receives Civil List pension of published.
200 pounds/year. 1886 -- Locksley Hall Sixty Years
1847 -- "The Princess" published. After published.
1849 -- Renews correspondence with -- Son Lionel dies.
Emily Sellwood. 1892 -- Dies.
Alfred Tennyson was born August
6th, 1809, at Somersby,
Parents: George and Elizabeth (Fytche)
fourth of twelve children
Grandfather made his younger uncle
heir and skipped over Tennyson’s
Wanted George to enter ministry
Not impoverished, but the sight of his
uncle living in a castle made Alfred worry
about money all his life
Lifelong fear of mental illness
several men in his family had a mild
form of epilepsy
thought a shameful disease.
His father and brother Arthur made their
cases worse by excessive drinking
Father became paranoid and
abusive and violent in the late
brother Edward had to be confined in a
mental institution after 1833
1827 Tennyson he followed his two
older brothers to Trinity College,
1829 - The Apostles
an undergraduate club
remainedTennyson's friends all his life
met to discuss major philosophical and
Bio - Hallam
most important of these
knew each other only four
intense friendship had major
influence on the poet
Hallam met and later became
engaged to Emily Tennyson
the two friends looked
forward to a life-long
1833 Hallam's death from
illness at 22
grief lead to
most of his best
Bio - Conclusion
Late 1830s: Mental Health worries:
visited a sanitarium
1844 as an emotional breakdown.
1842 Poems a success
Made him popular
1845 Gained a Civil List (government) pension of £200 a
Married Emily Sellwood
made Poet Laureate
Declined it several times until the Queen herself begged him
Made his the most popular poet of the Victorian era.
Even Prince Albert (a big fan) would sometimes drop by
Long-lived like most of his family (no matter how
unhealthy they seemed
Tennyson died on October 6, 1892, at the age of 83.
Having faith and Keeping faith
Faith and loyalty are essential
Keeping them is hard
men and their societies must be founded
on many faiths:
between ruler and ruled
man and woman to each other
worshipper and God
In and to one’s self
Tennyson is sceptical about man's
capacity to have and keep faith:
the destruction of an ideal when men
do not keep faith:
"The Passing of Arthur,“
makes it quite clear how the Round Table
offers some cause for hope:
presents the trials, triumphs, and
conversion of the ordinary man:
The problem of Science:
In this matter, Tennyson is a typical
deep interest in contemporary science vs. an
unorthodox, often contradictory, Christian
Tennysonian ideas of evolution:
Ie: passage from “Idylls…”:
The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the
A nearly self-conscious sense of public
Example : “Charge of the Light Brigade”
"an eagerness [on the part of British public
opinion] to find heroes in a wasteful war.
a victory for courage rather than a defeat through
stupidity and blunder
"was written after reading the first report of the
Times correspondent . . . my poem is dactylic, and
founded on the phrase, 'Some one had blundered.'
" (Poems, II, 369).
Tennyson made it quite clear that the charge was
the result of someone's foolish mistake,
Public nonetheless took it as a great piece of poetic
Did You Know?
Tennyson was extremely near-
He had trouble even seeing to eat
without the aid of a monocle
Would compose most of his work in
Would only write them down at the
urging of others