biographies – lord a. tennyson

Alfred Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, on 6th August 1809. In Trinity College, Cambridge he joined the secret society called the Cambridge Apostles and met his best friend Arthur Henry Hallam. When in 1830 Tennyson published his first solo collection of poems, Poems Chiefly Lyrical (1830) attracted the attention of well-known writers of the day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge. On his father’s death (1831), Tennyson was forced to leave Cambridge and help his mother. After a period of crisis for the loss of a friend and some wrong investments, Tennyson could devote to writing poems. In 1850, he succeeded William Wordsworth as Poet Laureate and in 1884 Queen Victoria, his ardent admirer, created him Baron. At 41 Tennyson married Emily Sellwood, whom he had known since childhood: the couple had two sons. Active and honoured into his eighties, he died on 6 October 1892 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.During his lifetime, Tennyson was very popular and admired both for the style and the content of his poetry. But the next generation, critical of whatever was Victorian, attacked and ridiculed his work; only with the advent of 1900 and thanks to T.S. Eliot’s re-examine the extraordinary variety of language and literary form of Tennyson’s production was again appreciated. Among his collections are Poems (1833) which contained The Lady of Shalott, The Lotos-Eaters and The Palace of Art; Poems (2 vols., 1842) with Ulysses, Locksley Hall and the lovely lyric Break. Break, Break; Maud (1855), a monodrama and Idylls of the King (1859-85), twelve episodes from the Arthurian cycle.

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