Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 - 1892

portrait of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Carbon print by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1869

Born: 6 August 1809, Somersby, Lincolnshire, England, UK
Died: 6 October 1892, Haslemere, Surrey, England, UK

Tennyson was born to a church rector. Although George Tennyson was the oldest son, the estate went to his brother Charles, so although the family was comfortable, the contrast with his uncle's castle left Alfred with a life-long fear of penury. He attended grammar school but was mostly home schooled before entering Trinity College, Cambridge. He was invited into a secret society there, the "Cambridge Apostles", whose members were close friends for life, and won the Chancellor's Gold Medal for one of his early pieces. He left Cambridge when his father died, the family was allowed to live in the rectory for six years. When his closest friend died, he wrote several significant poems, which were published but met heavy criticism which kept the shy Tennyson from publishing again for almost ten years. In 1942 he published two volumes of poetry which met with success, and in 1850 he was appointed Poet Laureate on the death of Wordsworth. Three years later, having just moved to the Isle of Wight, Prince Albert dropped in to express his admiration of the poet's work, after Albert's death Tennyson dedicated The Idylls of the King, his Arthurian epic, to Albert. Queen Victoria summoned him to court several times, in 1884 she created him Baron Tennyson, an honor that he had refused twice before when both Disraeli and Gladstone had made the attempt. Tennyson had been severely myopic throughout life, in later years he couldn't see well enough to eat without a monocle and had difficulty reading and writing. As a result, he tended to write entirely in his head before committing works to paper, and some of his work is known only because his listeners transcribed it. For those who prefer his rhythmic efforts in larger doses, we recommend The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Biography from Wikipedia and The Victorian Web

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