Tennyson, Alfred, 1st Baron Tennyson

views updated May 23 2018

Tennyson, Alfred, 1st Baron Tennyson (1809–92). Tennyson was the first poet to be made a peer of the realm, since Macaulay, author of Lays of Ancient Rome, had been an active politician. He was the son of a Lincolnshire rector and attended Louth Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge. His first volume of poetry in 1830 sold badly, though it contained ‘Mariana’: the next volume in 1832 included ‘The Lady of Shalott’. His collected volume in 1842 established him as a major poet, he was given a pension in 1845, succeeded Wordsworth as poet laureate in 1850, and was given his barony during Gladstone's ministry in 1884, apparently at Queen Victoria's suggestion. Much of his work, though not always his best, was based upon historical or legendary themes: ‘Morte d'Arthur’ and ‘Idylls of the King’ (1842, 1859); a translation from the Anglo-Saxon of ‘The Battle of Brunanburh’ (1880); and several historical plays, including Queen Mary (Mary Tudor, 1876), Harold (1877), and Becket (1884).

J. A. Cannon