Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson, from the frontispiece of The Death of Œnone, Akbar's Dream, and Other Poems (1892).

originally exhibited September-November 1992
Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina

text by Patrick Scott
hypertext by Jason A. Pierce

Introduction | Island 1 | Island 2 | Island 3 | Island 4 | Island 5


The Tennyson exhibit in 1992 marked an important event — the Tennyson centenary. Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was acclaimed very early in life as "the greatest poet of our generation, perhaps of our century" (letter of Arthur Hallam to William Gladstone, the future Prime Minister, September 1829). Tennyson's longer works, such as his religious poem In Memoriam (1850) and his Arthurian epic Idylls of the King(published in stages over a forty-year period), soon established themselves among the central, canonical works of English literature. Many of his shorter poems, such as "The Brook," "The May-Queen," and "The Charge of the Light Brigade," entered popular culture as songs or recitation-pieces. His poetry has spoken to intellectuals, to aesthetes, and to more ordinary readers for more than 150 years. Tennyson, more than any other British Poet Laureate, gave that oft-derided position a genuine literary distinction, and Tennyson was the first English poet ever given a peerage "for services to literature." His was a unique career in the close interrelations it demonstrates between a highly individual creative artist and the culture of his age.

Included in this online version of the exhibit are the texts of several poems:

The exhibit also includes the variant endings of Maud (1855 & 1856) and the poems "Poetical Happiness" (1832) and"Silkworms and Spiders" (1830) by the poet's brothers, Frederick and Charles Tennyson.


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