Alfred Tennyson

Samantha Matthews

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
Alfred Tennyson

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson (b. 1809–d. 1892) was born in Lincolnshire, the fourth child of a well-educated but volatile country vicar. In 1827, Tennyson went up to Cambridge and became part of a close-knit debating society, the Apostles. His earliest work, a collection of poems by Tennyson and his brothers, was published the same year, followed by his first individual publication in 1830. After mixed reviews for his early works, constant anxiety about financial instability, and the devastating death of his close friend Arthur Hallam in 1833, Tennyson published little for ten years. A measure of critical success rewarded Poems (1842), a mix of radically revised old poems and new work. The year 1850 was his annus mirabilis, with the publication of his well-received long poem In Memoriam A. H. H., appointment as poet laureate thanks to Prince Albert’s patronage, and his long-awaited marriage to Emily Sellwood. Financial and domestic stability followed, despite disapproving reviews of Maud (1855). Much of his poetry of the succeeding years reflected public events and preoccupations, and in 1862 his Idylls of the King was dedicated to the recently deceased Prince Albert. Tennyson finally accepted a peerage in 1883. He died nine years before Queen Victoria and was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1892. His reputation declined rapidly with the repudiation of all things Victorian that marked the beginning of the 20th century. A renewal of critical interest in his work began with the birth of Victorian studies in the 1960s, and Tennyson studies is now a vigorous area of scholarly activity.

Article.  15858 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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