1809 -- Born at Somersby rectory, Lincolnshire, fourth son of the rector. 1827 -- Poems by Two Brothers with Charles and Edward. -- Enters Trinity College, Cambridge. 1829 -- Friendship with Arthur Henry Hallam. -- Member of the "Apostles," a group of young men, at Cambridge. -- Receives chancellor's Gold Medal for prize poem "Timbuctoo". 1830 -- Poems Chiefly Lyrical published. 1831 -- Father dies. -- Hallam reviews of Poems Chiefly Lyrical . 1832 -- Poems published. -- His brother Edward goes insane. 1833 -- Hallam dies. 1838 -- Engaged to Emily Sellwood. 1840 -- Engagement broken off. -- Family moves to Tunbridge Wells. 1842 -- Poems revised; his fame established. 1843 -- Entire fortune, 3500 pounds, lost on a project to make wood carvings by steam, and his brothers and sisters lose an additional 8,000 pounds. 1844 -- Has an emotional breakdown. 1845 -- Receives Civil List pension of 200 pounds/year. 1847 -- "The Princess" published. 1849 -- Renews correspondence with Emily Sellwood.
1850 -- In Memoriam published anonymously. -- Marries Emily Sellwood. -- Appointed Poet Laureate. 1852 -- Son Hallam born. 1853 -- Moves to Farringford, Isle of Wight. 1854 -- Son Lionel born. 1855 -- Maud ; a Monodrama published. 1859 -- Idylls of the King published. 1862 -- New edition of Idylls dedicated to the memory of Prince Albert. -- Has first audience with Queen Victoria. 1869 -- The Holy Grail and Other Poems published. 1872 -- Verse novelettes Gareth and Lynette published. 1875 -- Queen Mary , a play, published. 1880 -- Ballads and Other Poems published. 1881 -- The Cup produced, starring Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. 1883 -- Accepts barony. 1885 -- Tiresias and Other Poems published. 1886 -- Locksley Hall Sixty Years After published. -- Son Lionel dies. 1892 -- Dies.
Alfred Tennyson was born August 6th, 1809, at Somersby, Lincolnshire:
Parents: George and Elizabeth (Fytche) Tennyson.
fourth of twelve children
Grandfather made his younger uncle heir and skipped over Tennyson’s father
Wanted George to enter ministry
Not impoverished, but the sight of his uncle living in a castle made Alfred worry about money all his life
Lifelong fear of mental illness
several men in his family had a mild form of epilepsy
thought a shameful disease.
His father and brother Arthur made their cases worse by excessive drinking
Father became paranoid and abusive and violent in the late 1820s
brother Edward had to be confined in a mental institution after 1833
1827 Tennyson he followed his two older brothers to Trinity College, Cambridge
1829 - The Apostles
an undergraduate club
remainedTennyson's friends all his life
met to discuss major philosophical and other issues
Bio - Hallam
most important of these friendships.
knew each other only four years
intense friendship had major influence on the poet
Hallam met and later became engaged to Emily Tennyson
the two friends looked forward to a life-long companionship
1833 Hallam's death from illness at 22
shocked Tennyson profoundly
grief lead to most of his best poetry:
“ Passing of Arthur”
Bio - Conclusion
Late 1830s: Mental Health worries:
visited a sanitarium
1844 as an emotional breakdown.
1842 Poems a success
Made him popular
1845 Gained a Civil List (government) pension of £200 a year
Married Emily Sellwood
made Poet Laureate
Declined it several times until the Queen herself begged him to accept
Made his the most popular poet of the Victorian era.
Even Prince Albert (a big fan) would sometimes drop by unannounced
Long-lived like most of his family (no matter how unhealthy they seemed
Tennyson died on October 6, 1892, at the age of 83.
Having faith and Keeping faith
Faith and loyalty are essential
Keeping them is hard
men and their societies must be founded on many faiths:
between ruler and ruled
man and woman to each other
worshipper and God
In and to one’s self
Tennyson is sceptical about man's capacity to have and keep faith:
the destruction of an ideal when men do not keep faith:
"The Passing of Arthur,“
makes it quite clear how the Round Table failed
offers some cause for hope:
presents the trials, triumphs, and conversion of the ordinary man:
The problem of Science:
In this matter, Tennyson is a typical Victorian:
deep interest in contemporary science vs. an unorthodox, often contradictory, Christian belief.
Tennysonian ideas of evolution:
Ie: passage from “Idylls…”:
The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfills Himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world,
A nearly self-conscious sense of public responsibility:
Example : “Charge of the Light Brigade”
"an eagerness [on the part of British public opinion] to find heroes in a wasteful war.
a victory for courage rather than a defeat through stupidity and blunder
"was written after reading the first report of the Times correspondent . . . my poem is dactylic, and founded on the phrase, 'Some one had blundered.' " (Poems, II, 369).
Tennyson made it quite clear that the charge was the result of someone's foolish mistake,
Public nonetheless took it as a great piece of poetic glorification
Did You Know?
Tennyson was extremely near-sighted
He had trouble even seeing to eat without the aid of a monocle
Would compose most of his work in his head
Would only write them down at the urging of others