Biography of Alfred Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809 in Lincolnshire, England. His father drank heavenly and was very unstable. During Tennyson's teen years, his elder brothers and he begun writing poetry. Shortly after, a collection of their poems were published locally when Alfred was only seventeen.
Charles, one of Alfred's older brothers, married Louisa Sellwood, the younger sister of Alfred's future wife.
Alfred Tennyson was educated at Louth grammar school and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the Cambridge Apostles. Tennyson published his first solo book of poems in 1830; however, critics claimed they were over-sentimental. And just three years later, one of Tennyson's best-known poems, The Lady of Sharlott, was published in his second collection.
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After Alfred's father had died, he shared the responsibility of taking care of his widowed mother along with his younger siblings. The family was allowed to live in the rectory for a short period but later moved to Essex. Due to an unwise investment in ecclesiastical wood-carving, the Tennyson family lost most of their money--and may have been the reason why Alfred was late in marrying.
In 1850 however, Tennyson was declared Poet Laureate, successor of William Wordsworth. The same year, Tennyson wrote his masterpiece In Memoriam A.H.H. dedicated to his friend Arthur Hallam who was married to Alfred's sister, Emilia. Later that year, Alfred married Emily Sellwood, whom he had known since childhood. They would later have two sons, Hallam and Lionel.
Until his death, Tennyson held the title of Poet Laureate, publishing only mediocre verse, such as Alexandra of Denmark, which was a greeting to her when she arrived to marry the future King Edward VII. His other works included Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and Ode Sung at the Opening of the International Exhibition.
In 1884, Alfred Tennyson became known as Baron Tennyson of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight. Tennyson was the first English writer raised to the Peerage.
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Alfred Tennyson died on October 6, 1892 and was buried at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. After his death, his son Hallam became Baron Tennyson and authorized a biography of his father in 1897 and later became Governor-General of Australia.
Alfred Tennyson Poems
- Break, break, break. An elegy about the death of Arthur Hallam.
- Crossing the Bar. A metaphor for life and death.
- The Eagle. A dominant but lonely bird.
- The Kraken. A massive creature beneath the sea.
- The Lady of Shalott. Loosely based on Elaine of Astolat.
- Mariana. A reference to Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.
- Marriage Morning. A fantastic wedding poem.
- Maud. About an unnamed lover.
- Tears, Idle Tears. Regarded as his most famous lyric.
- Ulysses. Based off the character from Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.