Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
(6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and is
one of the most popular English poets.
Much of his verse was based on
classical mythological themes, although In Memoriam was written to commemorate
his best friend Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and classmate at Trinity College,
Cambridge, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister, but died from a cerebral
hæmorrhage before they were married. One of Tennyson's most famous works
is Idylls of the King (1885), a series of narrative poems based entirely on
King Arthur and the Arthurian tales, as thematically suggested by Sir Thomas
Malory's earlier tales on the legendary king. The work was dedicated to Prince
Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. During his career, Lord Tennyson
attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success even in his lifetime.
Tennyson wrote a number of phrases
that have become commonplaces of the English language, including: "nature,
red in tooth and claw", "better to have loved and lost",
"Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", and "My
strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure". He is the
second most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,
Alfred Tennyson was born in
Somersby, Lincolnshire, a rector's son and fourth of 12 well-spoken children.
He was one of the descendants of King Edward III of England. Reportedly,
"the pedigree of his grandfather, George Tennyson, is traced back to the
middle-class line of the Tennysons, and through Elizabeth Clayton ten
generations back to Edmund, Duke of Somerset, and farther back to Edward
His father, George Clayton Tennyson
(1778–1831), was a rector for Somersby (1807–1831), also rector of Benniworth
and Bag Enderby, and vicar of Grimsby (1815). The reverend was the elder of two
sons, but was disinherited at an early age by his own father, the landowner
George Tennyson (1750–1835) (who belonged to the Lincolnshire gentry as the
owner of Bayons Manor and Usselby Hall), in favour of his younger brother
Charles, who later took the name Charles Tennyson d'Eyncourt. Rev. George
Clayton Tennyson raised a large family and "was a man of superior
abilities and varied attainments, who tried his hand with fair success in
architecture, painting, music, and poetry." Rev. Tennyson was
"comfortably well off for a country clergyman and his shrewd money management
enabled the family to spend summers at Mablethorpe and Skegness, on the eastern
coast of England." His mother, Elizabeth Fytche (1781–1865) was the
daughter of Stephen Fytche (1734–1799), vicar of Louth (1764) and rector of
Withcall (1780), a small village between Horncastle and Louth. Tennyson's
father "carefully attended to the education and training of his
Tennyson and two of his elder
brothers were writing poetry in their teens, and a collection of poems by all
three was published locally when Alfred was only 17. One of those brothers,
Charles Tennyson Turner later married Louisa Sellwood, the younger sister of
Alfred's future wife; the other poet brother was Frederick Tennyson.
Education and first
Tennyson was first a student of
Louth Grammar School for four years (1816–1820) and then attended
Scaitcliffe School, Englefield Green and King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth.
He entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1828, where he joined the secret
society called the Cambridge Apostles. At Cambridge Tennyson met Arthur Henry
Hallam, who became his best friend. His first publication was a collection of
"his boyish rhymes and those of his elder brother Charles" entitled
Poems by Two Brothers published in 1827.
In 1829 he was awarded the
Chancellor's Gold Medal at Cambridge for one of his first pieces, on
"Timbuctoo". Reportedly, "it was thought to be no slight
honor for a young man of twenty to win the chancellor's gold medal." He
published his first solo collection of poems, Poems Chiefly Lyrical in 1830.
"Claribel" and "Mariana", which later took their place
among Tennyson's most celebrated poems, were included in this volume. Although
decried by some critics as oversentimental, his verse soon proved popular and
brought Tennyson to the attention of well-known writers of the day, including
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Return to Lincolnshire and
In the spring of 1831, Tennyson's
father died, requiring him to leave Cambridge before taking his degree. He
returned to the rectory, where he was permitted to live for another six years,
and shared responsibility for his widowed mother and her large brood. His
friend Arthur Hallam came to stay with him during the summer and became engaged
to Tennyson's sister, Emilia Tennyson.
In 1833, Tennyson published his
second book of poetry, which included his well-known poem, The Lady of Shalott.
The volume met heavy criticism, which so discouraged Tennyson that he did not
publish again for 10 more years, although he continued to write. That same
year, Hallam suffered a cerebral hæmorrhage while on vacation in Vienna
and died. It devastated Alfred, but inspired him to produce a body of poetry
that has come to be seen as among the world's finest and best poems. However,
roughly a decade of poetic silence followed Hallam's death.
Tennyson and his family were allowed
to stay in the rectory for some time, but later moved to Essex. An unwise
investment in an ecclesiastical wood-carving enterprise soon led to the loss of
much of the family fortune.
Third publication and recognition
In 1842, while living modestly in
London, Tennyson published two volumes of Poems, the first of which included
works already published and the second of which was made up almost entirely of
new poems. They met with immediate success. Poems from this collection, such as
Locksley Hall, "Tithonus", and "Ulysses" have met enduring
fame. The Princess: A Medley, a satire of women's education, which came out in
1847, was also popular. W. S. Gilbert later adapted and parodied the piece
twice: in The Princess (1870) and in Princess Ida (1884).
It was in 1850 that Tennyson reached
the pinnacle of his career, finally publishing his masterpiece, In Memoriam
A.H.H., dedicated to Hallam. Later the same year he was appointed Poet Laureate
in succession to William Wordsworth. In the same year (June 13), Tennyson
married Emily Sellwood, whom he had known since childhood, in the village of
Shiplake. They had two sons, Hallam (b. Aug. 11, 1852) — named after his friend
— and Lionel (b. March 16, 1854).
The Poet Laureate
He held the position of Poet
Laureate from 1850 until his death, turning out appropriate but often mediocre
verse, such as a poem of greeting to Alexandra of Denmark when she arrived in
Britain to marry the future King Edward VII. In 1855, Tennyson produced one of
his best known works, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," a dramatic
tribute to the British cavalrymen involved in an ill-advised charge on 25
October 1854, during the Crimean War. Other works written as Laureate include
Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and Ode Sung at the Opening of the
Queen Victoria was an ardent admirer
of Tennyson's work, and in 1884 created him Baron Tennyson, of Aldworth in the
County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight. Tennyson initially
declined a baronetcy in 1865 and 1868 (when tendered by Disraeli), finally
accepting a peerage in 1883 at Gladstone's earnest solicitation. He took his
seat in the House of Lords on 11 March 1884.
Tennyson's life at Freshwater
features in Virginia Woolf's play of the same name, in which Tennyson mingles
with his friend Julia Margaret Cameron and G.F.Watts. He was the first English
writer raised to the Peerage. A passionate man with some peculiarities of nature,
he was never particularly comfortable as a peer, and it is widely held that he
took the peerage in order to secure a future for his son Hallam. Recordings
exist of Lord Tennyson declaiming his own poetry, which were made by Thomas
Edison, but they are of relatively poor quality.
Towards the end of his life Tennyson
revealed that his "religious beliefs also defied convention, leaning
towards agnosticism and pandeism":
Famously, he wrote in In Memoriam:
"There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the
creeds." In Maud, 1855, he wrote: "The churches have killed their
Christ." In "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After," Tennyson wrote:
"Christian love among the churches look'd the twin of heathen hate."
In his play, Becket, he wrote: "We are self-uncertain creatures, and we
may, Yea, even when we know not, mix our spites and private hates with our
defence of Heaven." Tennyson recorded in his Diary (p. 127): "I
believe in Pantheism of a sort." His son's biography confirms that
Tennyson was not Christian, noting that Tennyson praised Giordano Bruno and
Spinoza on his deathbed, saying of Bruno: "His view of God is in some ways
mine." D. 1892.
Tennyson continued writing into his
eighties, and died on 6 October 1892, aged 83. He was buried at Westminster
Abbey. He was succeeded as 2nd Baron Tennyson by his son, Hallam, who produced
an authorised biography of his father in 1897, and was later the second
Governor-General of Australia.
Throughout his career some
anthologists have noted subtle anti-American undertones in his work. Tennyson
never denied the underlying themes when questioned about them.
подготовки данной работы были использованы материалы с сайта http://en.wikipedia.org