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Public domain photo of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

A selective list of online literary criticism for the nineteenth-century Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with links to reliable biographical and introductory material and signed, peer-reviewed, and scholarly literary criticism

Introduction & Biography

"Alfred, Lord Tennyson." Poetry Foundation. Encyclopedia-type introduction to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, his biography, themes, and techniques, with text for some of his poems.

"Alfred Tennyson." Poetry Archive. Directors, Andrew Motion & Richard Carrington.

"Lord Alfred Tennyson." A brief introduction to Tennyson, with text for some of his most famous poems. Links to additional pages for related Victorian poets. Academy of American Poets.

"The Moxon illustrated edition of Tennyson's Poems." A visual introduction both to Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite artists, from The British Library.

Shaw, Marion. "Alfred, Lord Tennyson." An introduction to Tennyson, from a database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field, and is available to individuals for a reasonably-priced subscription. Literary Encyclopedia, 17 July 2001. Eds. Robert Clark, Emory Elliott, Janet Todd [subscription service].

"Why 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' Still Matters." BBC News Online Magazine, 25 Oct. 2004.

"Alfred Tennyson." Essays on Tennyson's style, themes, biography, and the Victorian background. The Victorian Web. Editor, George P. Landow.

Leng, Andrew. "The Ideology of 'eternal truth': William Holman Hunt and 'The Lady of Shalott,' 1850-1905." The Victorian Web.

Tennyson's poetry as inspiration for the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Victorian Web.

Leng, Andrew. "Millais's "Mariana": Literary Painting, the Pre-Raphaelite Gothic, and the Iconology of the Marian Artist."

John Everett Millais's Mariana, image
John Everett Millais's Mariana, based on Tennyson's poem

Literary Criticism

Barton, Anna Jane. "Letters, Scraps of Manuscript, and Printed Poems: the Correspondence of Edward FitzGerald and Alfred Tennyson." Victorian Poetry (2008) pp 19-35 [sub ser, questia] .

Barton, Anna Jane. "Delirious Bulldogs and Nasty Crockery: Tennyson as Nonsense Poet." Victorian Poetry 47, 1 (Spring 2009) pp 313-30 [substantial excerpt, muse].

Bevis, Matthew. "Tennyson, Ireland, and 'The Powers of Speech.'" Explores Tennyson's late poetry in connection with the surrounding political debate over Irish home rule. Victorian Poetry 39, 3 (Fall 2001) pp 345-64 [substantial extract, muse].

Brunner, Larry. "'I Sit as God': Aestheticism and Repentance in Tennyson's 'The Palace of Art.'" Renascence (2003) [sub ser, questia].

Campbell, Matthew. Publisher's site, with a chapter available for reading, for Rhythm and Will in Victorian Poetry (Cambridge UP 1999). On questions of human agency and will in the poetry of Tennyson and three other Victorian poets (to read the excerpt, click "Look Inside").

Caws, Mary Ann; and Gerhard Joseph. "Naming and Not Naming: Tennyson and Mallarme." On Tennyson and French Symbolist poetry. Victorian Poetry 43 (2005) [sub ser, questia].

Celikkol, Ayse. "Dionysian Music, Patriotic Sentiment, and Tennyson's Idylls of the King." Victorian Poetry (2007) [sub ser, questia].

Devereux, Cecily. "Canada and the Epilogue to the Idylls: 'The Imperial Connection' in 1873." Devereux examines Tennyson's attitude towards British Imperialism in Canada in the conclusion of Idylls of the King. Victorian Poetry 36, 2 (Summer 1998) [jstor].

Dransfield, Scott. "The Morbid Meters of Maud." Victorian Poetry 46, 3 (Fall 2008) pp 279-97 [sub ser, questia].

Gray, Erik. "'Out of me, out of me!': Andrea, Ulysses, and Victorian Revisions of Egotistical Lyric." Gray looks at Victorian responses to the problem of the lyric "I," focusing on Browning's "Andrea Del Sarto" and Tennyson's "Ulysses." Victorian Poetry 36, 4 (Winter 1998) [jstor].

Gray, Erik. "Getting it wrong in 'The Lady of Shalott.'" Victorian Poetry 47, 1(2009) pp 45-59 [substantial excerpt, muse].

Harland, Catherine R. "Interpretation and Rumor in Tennyson's 'Merlin and Vivien.'" Harland contends that "Merlin and Vivien" embodies conflicting aspects of Tennyson's poetic identity. Victorian Poetry 35, 1 (Spring 1996) [jstor].

Hill, Marylu. "'Shadowing Sense at War with Soul': Julia Margaret Cameron's Photographic Illustrations of Tennyson's Idylls of the King." Victorian Poetry 40, 4 (Winter 2002) [jstor].

Hughes, John. "'Hang There Like Fruit, My Soul': Tennyson's Feminine Imaginings." Victorian Poetry 45, 2 (Summer 2007). Says Hughes, "two aspects of the self, male and female, are separate but in constant circulation in Tennyson's work" [sub ser, questia].

Jackson, Jeffrey E. "The Once and Future Sword: Excalibur and the Poetics of Imperial Heroism in Idylls of the King.'" Victorian Poetry 46, 2 (Summer 2008) [sub ser, questia].

Joseph, Gerhard. "Producing the 'Far-Off Interest of Tears': Tennyson, Freud, and the Economics of Mourning." On In Memoriam. Victorian Poetry 36, 2 (Summer 1998) [jstor].

Killham, John, ed. Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson (Routledge 1960). The complete book is available open-access. Contents: Tennyson, A Review of Modern Criticism, by John Killham; The Age of Tennyson, by G. M. Young; Tennyson as a Modern Poet, by Arthur J. Carr; Tennyson and Picturesque Poetry, by H. M. McLuhan; Tennyson and the Romantic Epic, by H. M. McLuhan; Tennyson's Garden of Art: A Study of "The Hesperides," by G. Robert Stange; Symbolism in Tennyson's Minor Poems, by Elizabeth Hillman Waterston; The "high-born maiden" Symbol in Tennyson, by Lionel Stevenson; Tennyson's Mythology: A study of "Demeter and Persephone," by G. Robert Strange; The Dilemma of Tennyson, by W. W. Robson; Tennyson's "Ulysses": A Re-interpretation, by E. J. Chiasson; The Motivation of Tennyson's Weeper, by Cleanth Brooks; "Tears, Idle Tears," by Graham Hough; "Tears, Idle Tears" Again, by Leo Spitzer; In Memoriam, by T. S. Eliot; Tennyson's "Maud": The Function of the Imagery, by John Killham; Tennyson's Idylls, by F. E. L. Priestley. Internet Archive.

Landow, George P. "In Search of the Light Brigade: An Important Resource for Anyone Interested in the Crimean War." The Victorian Web. Ed. George P. Landow.

Mansell, Darrel. "Displacing Hallam's Tomb in Tennyson's In Memoriam." Mansell examines why Tennyson made errors of fact about Arthur Henry Hallam's death. Victorian Poetry 36, 1 (Spring 1998) [jstor].

Markovits, Stefanie. "Giving Voice to the Crimean War: Tennyson's "Charge" and Maud's Battle-song." Examines Tennyson's two most famous Crimean War poems, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and the martial stanzas in "Maud," as responses by England's Poet Laureate to an unpopular war. Victorian Poetry 47, 3 (Fall 2009) pp 481-503 [substantial extract, muse].

Phillips, Catherine. "'Charades from the Middle Ages'? Tennyson's Idylls of the King and the Chivalric Code." Victorian Poetry 40, 3 (Fall 2002) [sub ser, questia].

Riede, David G. "Tennyson's Poetics of Melancholy and the Imperial Imagination." SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 40, 4 (Autumn 2000) pp 659-78 [substantial extract, muse].

Ruderman, D. B. "The Breathing Space of Ballad: Tennyson's Stillborn Poetics." Victorian Poetry 47, 1 (Spring 2009) pp. 151-171. Tennyson's poetic fragment to his stillborn son [free at jstor].

Saltzman, Benjamin A. "William Morris' 'Golden Wings' as a Poetic Response to the 'Delicate Sentiment' of Tennyson's 'Mariana.'" Victorian Poetry 49, 3 (Fall 2011) pp 285-99 [substantial extract, muse].

Millais's Mariana, image
Millais's Mariana in the Moxon edition

Smyser, William Emory. "Romanticism in Tennyson and His Pre-Raphaelite Illustrators." The North American Review 192, 659 (Oct., 1910), pp. 504-515.

Taylor, Dennis. "Tennyson's Catholic Years: A Point of Contact." Postulates that Tennyson's surprising interest in Catholicism and the Catholicism of his friends was because this religion seemed to him to validate his own early mystical experiences. Victorian Poetry 47, 1 (Spring 2009) pp 285-312 [sub ser, questia].

Tomko, Michael. "Varieties of Geological Experience: Religion, Body, and Spirit in Tennyson's In Memoriam and Lyell's Principles of Geology." Victorian Poetry 42, 2 (Summer 2004) [sub ser, questia].

Weinfield, Henry. "'Of Happy Men That Have the Power to Die': Tennyson's 'Tithonus.'" Victorian Poetry (2009) [sub ser, highbeam].

Wright, Jane Cooke. "A Reflection on Fiction and Art in 'The Lady of Shalott.'" Victorian Poetry 41, 2 (Summer 2003) pp 287-90, brief article [sub ser, questia].

Web Sites

"Alfred Tennyson." Ed. Patrick Scott. Exhibition of books and manuscripts, includes explanatory essays. Contents: Introduction; Tennyson, Lincolnshire, and the Romantic Legacy; Tennyson, Interpreter of Mid-Victorian Britain; Tennyson and Religion; Tennyson's Arthurian Epic; Tennyson and the Victorian Publishing Revolution. Thomas Cooper Library, U of South Carolina.

"The Camelot Project." Eds. Alan Lupack and Barbara Tepa Lupack. Arthurian texts, images, bibliographies. U of Rochester.

"Darwin Correspondence Project." Eds. Jim Secord, Janet Browne. Online database of Charles Darwin's correspondence. The Darwin Correspondence Project was begun in 1974 by Frederick Burkhardt with the aid of zoologist Sydney Smith. It is now a searchable, online, open access database that includes complete transcripts of Darwin's letters and letters written to him, staffed by researchers and editors based in the UK at Cambridge University Library, home of the largest existing collection of Darwin's manuscripts, and in the US.

"Victorianism." The Victorian Web. Ed. George P. Landow. Essays topics include Victorianism as a Fusion of Neoclassical and Romantic Ideas; The Complex Realities of Victorianism; Main Currents in Victorian Intellectual History; The Fundamental Conflicts of Victorian Poetry; Density and Elaborate Interconnectedness of High and Late Victorian Culture; The Difficulties of Victorian Poetry; Victorian Doubt and Victorian Architecture; Victorian Taste; Victorian Design; Race in Thought and Science; Victorian Earnestness; The Seaside in the Victorian Literary Imagination; Tennyson and Victorianism; The Victorian Gentleman; Crisis of Organized Religion; and Queen Victoria.

"Monuments and Dust." Eds. Michael Levenson, David Trotter, Anthony Wohl. IATH, U of Va. A project by an international group of scholars who are creating a complex visual, textual, and statistical representation of Victorian London.

Audio, Video & Photos

"The Charge of the Light Brigade." Sound recording of Tennyson reading, recorded on wax cylinders in 1890. BBC.

The Charge of the Light Brigade. Video clip from the 1936 movie with Errol Flynn. "What a tactical blunder. The fools. Why they're riding to certain death!" YouTube.

"Julia Margaret Cameron and Alfred Lord Tennyson." Pictures by the noted photographer (who was a neighbor and friend of Tennyson) for Idylls of the King. Graphic Arts Division, Princeton U.

"Farringford and Tennyson." Photos of Farringford House, Tennyson's home in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, where he moved in 1853 and lived until his death. "Isle of Wight: Anyone for Tennyson?" Farringford House is now a hotel. Telegraph, 9 Sept. 2003.

"Alfred, Lord Tennyson's house for sale:" UK Telegraph, 16 Sept. 2008. Aldworth House, Tennyson's summer home in Black Down, near Haslemere in Surrey, which he built in 1868. Photo of Aldworth House.

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