Alfred (Lord) Tennyson



Alfred (Lord) Tennyson is buried in 'Poets' Corner', Westminster Abbey, London, England.

Burial Stone of Alfred Tennyson
Photograph by Mike Reed

He was born at Somersby in Lincolnshire in 1809. His father, George Tennyson, was the rector at Somersby but he suffered from epilepsy, mental instability and had a drug and alcohol problem.. However, he was a learned man and educated his son at home.

In 1827 Tennyson went to Trinity College, Cambridge where he soon became friendly with Arthur Henry Hallam a fellow member of The Apostles. Hallam also fell in love with Tennyson's sister Emily. Unfortunately, in 1833 Arthur Hallam died while travelling in Austria with his father. This event affected Tennyson greatly and prompted him to start writing a series of lyrics which would later became In Memoriam.

In 1836 Tennyson fell in love with Emily Sellwood - the daughter of a Lincolnshire solicitor - however their marriage was delayed until 1850 due to his precarious financial circumstances and worries by Emily's family concerning the general mental health of the Tennysons.

Their situation improved dramatically when Tennyson was appointed poet laureate in 1850 following the death of William Wordsworth - possibly on the recommendation of Prince Albert. This enabled him to move to Farringford on the Isle of Wight.

Tennyson Statue at Lincoln Cathedral
Designed by George Frederick Watts.

1850 also saw the publication of  In Memoriam to great popular and critical acclaim.

Tennyson was one of the most popular poets of the Victorian age - outselling even Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His reputation was secured by Maud, and Other Poems (1855) and Idylls of the King (1859). Even Queen Victoria was among his admirers. 

He was a consummate lyricist - and his work is full of melancholy and a sense of mortality. T.S.Eliot said of him that he had: 'the finest ear of any English poet since Milton'.

At his funeral, his poem Crossing the Bar was set to music by Sir Frederick Bridge.

There are memorials to Tennyson on the Isle of Wight and in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral.

Sunset and evening star,
   And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
   When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
   Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
   Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place 
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crost the bar.

Crossing The Bar

Read more of Tennyson's poetry






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