Alfred Lord Tennyson

Early life

Alfred Tennyson, known mostly as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was born on 19th of November in 1950, in Somersby, Lincolnshire England. He was the brilliant son of George Clayton Tennyson, rector of Benniworth and Somersby, also Bag Enderby and vicar of Grimsby. His mother, Elizabeth Fytche, was a simple lady. His father had a significant influence on his early years, partly because he was curious about the education of Tennyson, and partly, because his rigidity and old attitude had made the home environment sour to the extent that the family was called the “black blood” of the Tennyson. His mother remained a subject to mental torture, while other siblings, too, faced George’s wrath and anger during the early years. All these things left a permanent mark during his childhood, which he later fictionalized in his writings. His father died in 1831, leaving him in despair.


Since George Tennyson was a scholar and poet himself, he provided his Alfred with an extensive literary education himself along with the sound knowledge of Latin and Greek languages which he considered essential for the upbringing of a good child. His formal education started in 1816 from Louth Grammar School, where he hardly spent four years and continued his education at Trinity College, Cambridge after that until 1827.  Free from the dominance of his father, he breathed a sigh of relief at Cambridge and was lauded to make new friends. On account of his intelligence, humor, impersonation, and gifted qualities, he won the admiration of those interested in poetry and conversation. Also, at Cambridge, he developed a lifelong friendship with Arthur Hallam, an English poet, and William Henry Brookfield, an Anglian priest. Both supported and encouraged him later in his literary endeavors. Unfortunately, after his father’s death, he left the university without completing his degree.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. Alfred Tennyson became a member of Apostles, a secret society at Cambridge in 1829.
  2. In 1829, he won the Chancellor’s gold medal for his poem, “Timbuctoo.”
  3. He published his first collection of poems, entitled Poems by Two Brothers, in 1827.
  4. Queen Victoria was the ardent admirer of his works as she wrote in her diary that she used to read his work, “In Memoriam A.H.H.” after Prince Albert’s death.
  5. He died on the 6th of October in 1829 at the age of eighty-three and was buried in the Poet’s Corner in the Westminster Abbey.
  6. Succeeding William Wordsworth, he was appointed as the Poet Laureate in 1850.

His Career

Alfred Tennyson, a renowned Victorian poet, started writing poetry as a boy and enjoyed an esteemed success in his life. Although he became a published writer in 1827, his works earned public acclaim in 1840 long after his first publication. Despite leading a strained life, the determined man decided not to give up. By the end of 1832, he published a collection of poems titled, Poems by Alfred Tennyson. Upon getting mixed responses and criticism from the audiences, he dissuaded himself from further publications for nine years but continued to produce literary works. Later, the death of his father in 1831 and Arthur Hallam’s death in 1833 left him devastated but even those grave losses could not impede his writing abilities. In 1842, another volume of his poetry brought financial and commercial success for him. Later, his masterpiece “The Memoriam” published in 1850 won him acclaim. The elegy touched the reader’s heart and made him stand among the list of the great Victorian poet. Another piece of work by Tennyson, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” epitomized patriotism and various features of the Victorian era. In his later years, he tried his hands on dramas, but unfortunately, they could not match the impact of his previous works.

His Style

Alfred Tennyson enjoyed a successful literary life. During his childhood, his father introduced him to the great literary figures, which later played a pivotal role in his writing career. Using his own unique style, he beautifully portrayed his ideas in his literary pieces. He was highly influenced by the poets of the era such as John Keats and Lord Byron but his writings reflect the style of Sir Walter Sot, John Milton, and Alexander Pope. He has beautifully used Elizabethan verse in his collection “The Devil and the Lady.” Having a deep understanding of the rhyme scheme and metrical pattern, he practiced various styles in his poems. Sometimes he preferred plain and simple composition, while sometimes his pieces reflect the complexity of thought and use of sensual language. Marked with the use of motifs, symbolism, imagery, and allusions, his poetry won universal recognition. The recurring themes in most of his writings are spirituality, nature, alienation, madness, love, and courage.

Some Important Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson

  • Best Poems: Alfred, Lord Tennyson was a leading Victorian writer, some of his best poems include “In Memoriam A.H.H.”, “The Eagle”, “Crossing the Bar”, “The Lady of Shalott”, “Lady Clara Vere de Vere” and “Break, Break, Break.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson Impact on Future Literature

After many years of his demise, Tennyson’s works still enjoy the same prestige. His witty ideas and distinct literary qualities won quite a number of applause from his readers, critics, and other fellow writers. He successfully documented his ideas about life, death, and alienation in his writings. Today, when the modern writers write, they, more than often, try to imitate his style for the uniqueness his work demonstrates.

Famous Quotes

  1. “Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
    (“In Memoria”)
  1. “T is not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.  (“ Ulysses“)
  1. “Half the night I waste in sighs,
    Half in dreams I sorrow after
    The delight of early skies;
    In a wakeful dose I sorrow
    For the hand, the lips, the eyes,
    For the meeting of the morrow,
    The delight of happy laughter,
    The delight of low replies.”
    “Maud, and other poems“ (Maud, and Other Poems)