Chronology of Tennyson's Life

1809: AlfredTennyson born on 6 August at Somersby, Lincolnshire. 

1828-31: Attends Trinity College, Cambridge, and meets Arthur Hallam. Becomes a member of the Apostles debating society through Hallam, and wins the Chancellor’s Gold Medal for his poem ‘Timbuctoo’.

1827: Poems by Two Brothers published, featuring verses by Alfred and his brother Charles.

1830: Poems, Chiefly Lyrical published by Edward Moxon. Includes the poems ‘Mariana’ and ‘The Kracken’.

1833: Poems published.  The volume includes ‘The Lady of Shalott’, but is dismissed by critics, deterring Tennyson from publishing his work for a decade.  Arthur Hallam dies from a cerebral haemorrhage, inspiring several poems, including the monumental In Memoriam A.H.H.

1842: The two-volume Poems published. Includes ‘Locksley Hall’, ‘Break, Break, Break’ and ‘Ulysses’.  The work establishes Tennyson’s reputation as the poet of the age.

1847: The Princess: A Medley published, addressing women’s education.  Includes the lyrics ‘Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal’ and ‘Sweet and Low’.

1850: In Memoriam published in May to critical and popular acclaim. Its success enables Tennyson to marry Emily Sellwood on 13 June.  He is appointed Poet Laureate in November.

1851: Alfred and Emily’s first child, a son, is stillborn on 20 April after Emily took a fall the previous week.

1852: Writes ‘Ode on the death of Wellington’. Son Hallam is born in Sussex on 11 May.

1853: Rents Farringford at Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight.

1854: Writes ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. Son Lionel is born at Farringford on 16 March. Isle of Wight MP Sir John Simeon, painter John Everett Millais and writer Coventry Patmore visit.  ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ is published in The Examiner on 9 December 1854.

1855: Maud is published in July. Despite causing controversy, it is a tremendous financial success, helping Tennyson raise the funds to buy Farringford.

1856: The Tennysons buy Farringford in April. Friend Thomas Woolner begins a bust of Tennyson (completed in 1857). Prince Albert, illustrator Richard Doyle and publisher Edward Moxon visit.

1857: Begins to write the Arthurian epic Idylls of the King (published between 1859 and 1885).  The Moxon Illustrated Edition of Tennyson’s poems is published, featuring artworks by John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

1858: Writes extra stanzas of ‘God Save the Queen’ for the Princess Royal’s wedding on 25 January. Sits for his first portrait by good friend George Frederic Watts. Theologian F.D. Maurice and educationalist Sir Alexander Grant visit.

1859: First part of Idylls of the King published in July.  A second Watts portrait is completed. The authors Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), Edward Lear and Charles Kingsley visit, as well as US statesman Charles Sumner.

1860: Helps friend Francis Turner Palgrave, later the Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, to select poems for The Golden Treasury anthology. Pioneering photographer and family friend Julia Margaret Cameron moves to Freshwater. Prince Albert requests Tennyson’s autograph for his edition of Idylls.  The Duke and Duchess of Argyll, Lord Dufferin, dramatist and poet Henry Taylor, and collector and publisher Lady Charlotte Schreiber (née Guest) visit.

1861: Prince Albert dies on 14 December. Palgrave’s Golden Treasury published.

1862: ‘Dedication’ to Prince Albert published with Idylls. A grieving Queen Victoria reads In Memoriam for solace, and hosts Tennyson at Osborne on 14 April. Writes ‘Ode on the Exhibition’ for the International Exhibition in London.  Watts paints Emily (21-29 November), and begins two more portraits of Tennyson. Swedish photographer Oscar Rejlander photographs the family at Farringford.

1863: Writes a ‘Welcome’ to Princess Alexandra of Denmark on her marriage to Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales.

1864: Enoch Arden published. Military campaigner Giuseppe Garibaldi visits Tennyson at Farringford with much fanfare. John Mayall photographs Tennyson and his sons.  Watts, his muse Ellen Terry, artistic patrons Thoby and Sara Prinsep, Master of Balliol Benjamin Jowett, Henry Taylor, poet William Allingham, scholar John Stuart Blackie and writer Martin Farquhar Tupper visit.

1865: Tennyson is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Tours Waterloo, Weimar and Dresden. Watts paints Hallam and Lionel Tennyson. Queen Emma of the Sandwich Islands, Anne Thackeray Ritchie (daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray) and geologist Richard Owen visit.

1868: Lays foundation stone for new summer home, Aldworth, on 23 April. American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, classicist Fraser Tytler, Prince Alemayehu (the orphaned son of the Ethiopian Emperor) and his guardian Captain Speedy visit.

1869: Made a Fellow of Trinity and is a co-founder of the Metaphysical Society. Irish historian W.E.H. Lecky visits.

1870: Longtime friend and Isle of Wight neighbour Sir John Simeon dies, 23 May.

1873: Rejects baronetcy offered by Gladstone.

1874: Refuses baronetcy offered by Disraeli. Visits Paris.

1875: Writes first adult play, Queen Mary: A Drama.  Tours the Pyrenees.

1876: Writes another play, Harold. Queen Mary produced at the Lyceum, featuring Henry Irving.

1878: Lionel Tennyson marries Eleanor Locker, daughter of Alfred’s friend, man of letters Frederick Locker.

1880: Ballads and Other Poems published.  Finishes play The Cup.

1881: Henry Irving and Ellen Terry star in The Cup: A Tragedy at the Lyceum. Millais undertakes a portrait of Tennyson.

1882: The Promise of May produced at the Globe theatre.

1883: Tennyson finally accepts a peerage from Gladstone on a tour of Scotland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway in September.

1884: The Falcon; The Cup and Becket are produced.  A new edition of Tennyson’s Complete Works I published. Takes seat in the House of Lords on 11 March and votes for the extension of the franchise (right to vote).  Hallam Tennyson marries Audrey Boyle on 25 June

1885: Tiresias, and Other Poems published. Includes a verse on the marriage of Princess Beatrice.

1886: Lionel Tennyson dies at sea from malaria, 20 April. Writes ‘Locksley Hall, Sixty Years After’ and ‘The Promise of May’.

1887: Summer cruise St David’s, Clovelly, Tintagel and the Channel Isles.

1889: Demeter, and Other Poems published. Writes ‘Crossing the Bar’ on the ferry to Yarmouth.  Cruises on Liberal politician Lord Brassey’s yacht.  Sir Charles Hubert Parry visits.

1890: Watercolour sketches encouraged by Watts, who paints two portraits of the poet in May; AT carves brick decoration, moulds of ivy leaf wreathes for Farringford cottage; records 'The Bugle Song' from The Princess, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Charge of the Heavy Brigade, Ask me no more, Northern Farmer, New Style, Maud, Boadicea and the Wellington Ode on 15 May.

1892: The Death of Oenone, Akbar’s Dream, and Other Poems published. The Foresters or, Robin Hood and Maid Marian produced in New York and London, with music by Arthur Sullivan.  Tennyson dies at Aldworth on 6 October, and is buried at Westminster Abbey.

1893: Henry Irving and Ellen Terry perform Becket at the Lyceum.

1896: Emily, Lady Tennyson dies on 10 August, aged 83.

1897: Hallam Tennyson publishes a Memoir of his father.

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