Lord Alfred Tennyson

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Lord Alfred Tennyson was the most popular British poet of the Victorian era, even though he avoided the public life. "Tennyson earned his position in literature because of the remarkable range of his talents and his dedication throughout his long career to perfecting his art." "Tennyson's long list of works showed his consistent inspiration and creative vitality, beginning with poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830) and extending to The Death of Oenone and Other Poems, published after his death more than 60 years later" (Dunn 169). Tennyson's works were melancholic, and reflected the moral and intellectual values of his time, which made them especially vulnerable for later criticism. His father took notice of Alfred's potential to write excellent poetical lyrics while at an early age. Born August 6, 1809, Alfred Tennyson was the fourth of twelve children of a Lincolnshire rector and a vicar's daughter. At the early age of seven he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother at Louth to attend the grammar school there. Alfred was only there until the age of eleven when he returned to the family home at Somersby (Kunitz 610). At the young age of twelve, he wrote a 6,000-line epic poem. His father, the Reverend George Tennyson, tutored his sons in classical and modern languages. His father was a man of culture, and he early recognized the remarkable promise of this boy who was a voracious reader and a talented author. "If Alfred die," the father remarked when the son was only in his early teens, "one of our greatest poets will have gone" (Kunitz 610). In the 1820s, however, Tennyson's father began to suffer frequent mental breakdowns that were exacerbated by alcoholism. "One of Tennyson's brothers had violent quarrels with his father, a second was later confined to an insane asylum, and another became an opium addict" (Everett 1). In 1828, Alfred, with his closest brother Charles, matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where their brother Frederick was already a student. He studied there less than three years, and seemed to not have learned a great deal, and disliked Cambridge heartily. In 1830, Tennyson published Poems, Chiefly Lyrical and in 1832 he published a second volume entitled simply Poems. "A scathing critism of the poems published in 1833, made by the Quarterly Review, so depressed the sensitive poet that he didn't publish another volume for nine years.
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