Alfred Lord Tennyson Biography (1809-1892)
Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England on August 6, 1809.
His father’s name was George Clayton Tennyson. His father was a clergyman.
His mother’s name was Elizabeth Fytche and after marriage Elizabeth Tennyson.
Alfred Lord Tennyson was the fourth child of his parents. His parents had twelve children.
He studied at Louth Grammar School in his early educational life from 1816-1820, and later on he joined Trinity College, Cambridge in 1827.
Arthur Hallam was his college friend. Their friendship developed when he was at Trinity College, Cambridge. They were a part of a literary group named ‘The Apostles’ at Trinity College. The group supported Alfred Lord Tennyson and gave him the confidence to be a young poet. Hallam was not only Tennyson’s closest friend but his brother-in-law also. Hallam was engaged to Tennyson’s sister Emily Tennyson. His friend Hallam suddenly died in 1833 when he was of 22. It was a great loss to Tennyson. In his memory, Tennyson wrote his elegy ‘In Memoriam’. It was published in 1850. It shocked Tennyson much and he decided not to publish for 10 years. But it was also considered that his second volume of poetry got heavy criticism, it discouraged him much so he decided not to publish again for ten years.
Although Tennyson had written many poems his first collection of poetry was Poems Chiefly Lyrical. It was published in 1830.
His second collection of poetry was The Poems. It was published in 1832. This one has not given him fame. Although the second volume of poetry got unfavorable reviews, his friend Hallam supported Tennyson and promoted it.
The Princess, and A Medley Dealing, were his famous works.
His well-known poem ‘In Memoriam’ brought him closer to Queen Victoria, she was much impressed with his poem. This poem made him the Poet Laureate of England.
His Other Works-
Maud and Other Poems
The Idylls of the King
His main short lyrics are given below-
“Break, Break, Break”, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, “Tears, Idle Tears”, and “Crossing the Bar”.
He composed some blank verses- ‘Idylls of the King’, “Ulysses”, and “Thithonus”.
Alfred Lord Tennyson made a collection of poems in 1830 and named it ‘Poems Chiefly Lyrical’. His poems- “Claribel” and “Mariana” were included in his first solo collection of poems.
In 1842, he published his poems ‘Two Volumes’. This one was different and brought him more fame. The success of this volume made him a great poet. Now he was a popular poet and got a government pension a few years later.
Alfred Lord Tennyson was made the Poet Laureate of England by Queen Victoria in 1850, after William Wordsworth’s death. Samuel Rogers was ahead of Tennyson for the post of Poet Laureate, but he refused. Tennyson was The Poet Laureate till his death in 1892.
It is considered the longest period of any Laureate. Queen Victoria
decided to do this because she was much influenced by his work ‘In Memoriam’.
He was awarded the Chancellor’s gold Medal at Cambridge for his first pieces. “Timbuktu”.
In 1850 Tennyson married Emily Sellwood, his childhood friend from Shiplake village.
He had two sons-
1- Hallam Tennyson
His Valuable Phrases/Quotes-
Many of his phrases were more valuable. He was ninth on the list of the most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Some quotes are given here-
- “Nature, red in tooth and claw”- (In Memoriam)
- “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” (In Memoriam)
- “Theirs not to reason why theirs but to do and die” (The Charge of the Light Brigade)
- “My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure” (Sir Galahad)
- “To strive, to seek, to find, and not yield” (Ulysses)
- “Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers” (Locksley Hall)
- “The old order changeth, yielding place to new’ (Morte D’ Arthur)
Tennyson died in Haslemere, England on 6th October 1892. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey.