Baker & Taylor A biography of the Victorian poet reveals Tennyson as a brilliant and passionate man and reevaluates his use of opium, his latent homosexuality, and his famous works
Blackwell North Amer For most of the hundred years since his death, Alfred Lord Tennyson has not enjoyed a lively reputation. Seen on the one hand as the grim, bearded embodiment of the Victorian age, and on the other - in the dismissive words of W.H. Auden - as "the greatest English poet of the Nursery," his stature as a person has crumbled and his influence on poetry deemed largely negligible compared to that of his contemporaries Arnold and Browning. Critics who are happiest investing poets with greatness only if they are poor, tragic, overlooked, and preferably all three have never forgiven Tennyson for being as instantly recognizable as Queen Victoria, for being an enormously popular poet laureate, for writing the jingoistic Charge of the Light Brigade and, worst of all, for having the temerity to make huge amounts of money from his poetry while he was still alive. This biography, the first for ten years and the only one to take both a scholarly and popular approach to Tennyson's life, redresses the balance. Shedding new light on Tennyson's life from cradle to deathbed, Michael Thorn takes us from his distinctly gothic childhood peppered by scenes of drunkenness, lunacy, and violence through the years of prosperity and popularity to his still creative yet increasingly cantankerous old age. He tackles the subjects that previous biographers have shied away from: the rumors of Tennyson's drug addiction, epilepsy, sexual coldness, homosexuality, and even madness that persist to this day. And placing his subject within the context of his era, but discarding the "typically Victorian" viewpoint, he paints a detailed portrait of a complex man, innovative in his work, curiously dismissive of social graces, yet devoted to his family and obsessed by immortality, his health and the lawns at his country home. Lively, authoritative, and highly illuminating, Tennyson provides a much-needed reassessment of one of the most maligned, misunderstood yet enduring English poets.
Baker & Taylor A biography of the Victorian poet reveals Tennyson as a brilliant and passionate man and reevaluates his use of opium, his latent homosexuality, and his famous works.