Birth - Death
1809 - 1892
Alfred Tennyson was born into a large family with 12 siblings and a tyrannical father. This early traumatic environment influenced his writing through much of his life. This trauma was compounded by the death of the great love of his life, Arthur Hallam, whom he met as an under-graduate at Trinity College, Cambridge. His grief was only consoled 20 years later when he wrote his greatest poem and masterpiece In Memorium.
It is clear today from correspondence and newly discovered poems that Tennyson’s love for Arthur Hallam was both passionate and romantic. This love was unapologetic, and his poetry reflects a homoerotic desire that had yet to be constrained by a homophobic culture of repressiveness that arose later with Oscar Wilde.
The poem was met with such great success that Queen Victoria appointed him Poet Laureate in 1850. He was the first poet to be raised to a British peerage, Baron Tennyson in 1883. His other notable poems include The Lady of Shalott, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Locksley Hall, Ulysses, and Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. These poems are all noted for their lyrical rhythm that creates a mood of tranquility and melancholy, thereby inducing rich imagery and sad emotion.