Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson

millais_tennyson.jpgBiographical Information

Alfred Tennyson was born on August 6th, 1809, the fourth in a family of twelve children. His father entered the ministry unwillingly, forced into the profession out of financial necessity. Having a rich Aunt and Uncle made Tennyson worry about money for most of his life; not to mention that poetry was not the most promising profession financially in Victorian England. Another worry that plagued Tennyson was his fear of contracting a mental illness. Many members of his family, including his father and brother, suffered from epilepsy, making Tennyson afraid of the disease. In 1827, Tennyson left home to follow his two brothers who attended Trinity College, Cambridge. In the same year, the two brothers published the award winning Poems by Two Brothers, making them famous among the students and faculty of Trinity College. In 1829, Tennyson’s friends invited him to the group known as “The Apostles”, in which he readily joined. The Apostles was an undergraduate group that discussed various topics including philosophical issues. It was here that Tennyson befriended Arthur Hallam who would become his closest friend. Arthur Hallam was a well respected English poet that had a tremendous impact on Tennyson’s life. They knew each other for four years and founded a close bond with each other. Hallam became engaged to Tennyson’s sister Emily Tennyson and would have become his brother-in-law if not for his death in 1833. His death affected Tennyson deeply; the tragedy would have a great influence on Tennyson’s poetry throughout his life. Even though Hallam tragically died at the early age of 22, the grief it left with Tennyson brought about some of his greatest poems, including “The Passing of Arthur”, “Tithonus”, “Ulysses”, and In Memorium.THIS ASSESSMENT NEEDS A CITATION

The release of Tennyson’s work entitled Poems in 1832 produced mixed results from various critics. The negative reactions in turn made Tennyson, who was extremely sensitive to criticism, unable to publish another poem for nine years. During this time span, Tennyson grew concerned with his mental health, still worried about his own family history’s proneness to mental illness. This led him to visit a sanatorium run by Dr. Matthew Allen. Using the money he inherited from his grandfather’s death in 1835, Tennyson invested in Dr. Allen’s business which involved the mass-producing of wood carvings using only steam power. After Dr. Allen suffered bankruptcy, Tennyson ended his engagement to Emily Sellwood, a childhood friend, for lack of money to pay for the wedding.

After a nine year drought, Tennyson had his 1942 Poems published. This became a great success and to his delight critically acclaimed. This work made Tennyson a popular poet and sparked a financial upturn. Tennyson achieved his peak fame and financial security in 1850 with the publication of In Memorium, a long and meticulously constructed elegy in which Tennyson attempts to come to terms with his religious uncertainty and waning faith in humanity. This poem, a combination of periodically composed lyrics over a seventeen year period, earned Tennyson national recognition. In 1850, he finally was able to marry Emily Sellwood due to his financial success. He became Poet Laureate also in 1850, and remained a popular and widely acknowledged figure for the remainder of his life. Tennyson was even summoned by Queen Victoria on several instances, a gesture that was considered a great honor in his day. MISUNDERSTANDING SOURCE HERE. During the later years of this life, he suffered from an extreme case of short-sidedness, not allowing him to read or write. This did not however stop him from writing, as he began to write and work on poetry in his head but not recording most of it. After living a long life, he died in 1892 at the age of 83.

Today Tennyson is recognized as an intellectually gifted man and extremely talented poet of the Victorian era. Though there are those who criticize his writing for a myriad of reasons, his poetry is ultimately regarded as some of the best work of its time. His constant struggle with religion, science, and the general progress of mankind exemplifies the atmosphere of Victorian poetry. He is remembered as one of the greatest poets in modern history and considered the most popular poet in the Victorian era.



Everett, Glenn. “Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Brief Biography.” 13 May 2009.
“Alfred Tennyson, 1881.” Millais. 13 May 2009.…/ works/millais_tennyson.jpg