Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Christina, Patrick, and Kye

Early Life

Alfred Tennyson was born August 6, 1809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England. Tennyson was the third of 11 children, having 2 older brothers, 4 younger brother, and 4 younger sisters. Tennyson's father was a church reactor and well read, teaching the love of reading and writing to his children at a young age.

Early Beginnings of a Poet

In 1827, Tennyson published his first poetry in, Poems by Two Brothers. Tennyson later attended Trinity College in Cambridge joining his two older brothers. Tennyson continued to write poetry, and in 1829, he won the Chancellor's Gold Medal for the poem "Timbuctoo." In 1830, Tennyson published his first solo publication: Poems, Chiefly Lyrical.

In 1833, Tennyson published another volume of poetry: Poems by Alfred Tennyson, which contained the well known, "The Lady of Shalott." Even thought "The Lady of Shalott" did well, the rest of the poetry was not successful.

In 1836, Tennyson fell in love with Emily Sellwood, and the two were soon engaged. However, due in part to concerns about his finances and his health (Tennyson's family had history of epilepsy) Tennyson ended the engagement in 1840.

In 1842, Tennyson published more poetry in the two-volume Poems. Some of his highlights included a revised "The Lady of Shalott," and also "Locksley Hall," "Morte d'Arthur" and "Ulysses".

Success as a Poet

Tennyson later released two publications, The Princess in 1847 and The Memoriam in 1850. Tennyson, who had learned he did not have epilepsy and was feeling more financially secure, had reconnected with Emily Sellwood, and the two were married in June 1850.

Later in 1850, Tennyson succeeded Wordsworth as Poet Laureate of England. Tennyson's poetry became more and more widely read, which gave him both an impressive income and an ever-increasing level of fame.

An episode in the Crimean War led to Tennyson penning "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in 1854. This work was also included in Maud, and Other Poems in 1855. Tennyson's first four books Idylls of the King, appeared in 1859. In 1864, Enoch Arden and Other Poems sold 17,000 copies on its first day of publication.

Tennyson and Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria selected Tennyson to become the next Poet Laureate of England in 1850. Tennyson became friendly with Queen Victoria, who found comfort in reading "In Memoriam" following the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861.

Later Years and Legacy

In 1874, Tennyson branched out to poetic dramas, starting with Queen Mary (1875). Some of his dramas would be successfully performed, but they never matched the impact of his poems.

Tennyson and his wife had had two sons, Hallam (b. 1852) and Lionel (b. 1854). Lionel predeceased his parents; he became ill on a visit to India, and died in 1886 onboard a ship heading back to England.

The poet suffered from gout, and experienced a recurrence that grew worse in the late summer of 1892. On October 6, 1892, at the age of 83, Tennyson passed away at his home in Surrey. He was buried in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner.

Tennyson was the leading poet of the Victorian age; but as that era ended, his reputation began to fade. Today Tennyson is once more recognized as a gifted poet who delved into eternal human questions, and who offered both solace and inspiration to his audience.