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17 December 1981
Studies in Tennyson 
edited by Hallam Tennyson.
Macmillan, 229 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 27884 4
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... The title page of this book tells us that it is ‘published to commemorate the centenary of Sir Charles Tennyson, the poet’s grandson and biographer, born 8 November 1879, died 22 June 1977’. Charles Tennyson was very far from being the most eccentric of all the Tennysons, but he is the most astonishing of ...

Ripping the pig

Robert Bernard Martin

5 August 1982
The Letters of Alfred​ Lord TennysonVol. 1 1821-1850 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 366 pp., £17.50, February 1982, 0 19 812569 0
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Tennyson‘In Memoriam’ 
edited by Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1982, 0 19 812747 2
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... Two months after Tennyson’s death Burne-Jones was reluctantly following the instructions of the poet’s widow and son in repainting the portrait of Tennyson as a young man which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Emily Tennyson had never liked the picture, perhaps in part because she also disliked Edward FitzGerald, who had originally ...

Amigos

Christopher Ricks

2 August 1984
The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... so, Of that man I used to know – but ‘so/Of that old man’; and ‘I thanked him very much for telling me’ is very much better as Carroll wrote it, without the ‘very’. A poet called Lord AlfredTennyson, not to be confused with Alfred Lord Douglas, briefly surfaces like the Kraken; the poem is here a Mort and there a Morte. Max Beerbohm’s parody of Henry James is readily and roughly ...

Tennyson’s Text

Danny Karlin

12 November 1987
The Poems of Tennyson 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Longman, 662 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 582 49239 4
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Tennyson’s ‘Maud’: A Definitive Edition 
edited by Susan Shatto.
Athlone, 296 pp., £28, August 1986, 0 485 11294 9
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The Letters of Alfred​ Lord Tennyson. Vol.2: 1851-1870 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 585 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 19 812691 3
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The New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 654 pp., £15.95, June 1987, 0 19 214154 6
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... Writing in 1842 to his friend Alfred Domett, who had emigrated to New Zealand, Robert Browning enclosed ‘Tennyson’s new vol. and, alas, the old with it – that is what he calls old’. Browning was referring to the two-volume Poems of 1842, whose first volume consisted of heavily revised versions of poems ...

A Spanish girl is a volcano

John Pemble: Apostles in Gibraltar

9 September 2015
John Kemble’s Gibraltar Journal: The Spanish Expedition of the Cambridge Apostles, 1830-31 
by Eric Nye.
Macmillan, 416 pp., £100, January 2015, 978 1 137 38446 1
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... his silence was being noted. ‘Where is Mr Graham Greene?’ Anthony Powell asked in a review of Authors Take Sides. So in December 1937, Greene published an article in the Spectator called ‘AlfredTennyson Intervenes’. He recalled that what was happening now wasn’t the first instance of its kind. A hundred years before, the poets AlfredTennyson and Arthur Hallam, with a number of their ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson

20 January 2011
The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
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... When Auden announced in his preface to a new selection that Tennyson was ‘undoubtedly the stupidest’ of all the English poets he must have known that he was asking for trouble. Trouble duly came in the shape of Sir Desmond MacCarthy, who doggedly stood up in the ...

Ripping Yarns

John Sutherland

8 April 1993
Tennyson 
by Michael Thorn.
Little, Brown, 566 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90299 3
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Tennyson 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 370 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 333 52205 2
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... there have been four authoritative biographies of Trollope; two of Dickens; two of Wilkie Collins; three of Stevenson (one down, two to come); and – with the present centennial haul – three of Tennyson. Given the huge expenditure of scholarly energy modern biography demands it would be rational to redistribute some of it. One would like more studies such as Claire Tomalin’s of Ellen Ternan, or ...

Damp-Lipped Hilary

Jenny Diski: Larkin’s juvenilia

23 May 2002
Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions 
by Philip Larkin, edited by James Booth.
Faber, 498 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 571 20347 7
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... 1909-86), nicknamed “the King of Swing”’; and that Myfanwy’s comment ‘Ours not to reason why’ is an inaccurate reference to ‘“Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do or die . . .” AlfredTennyson, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”’? Is he trying to educate those readers only interested in pornography, who, he perhaps supposes, have no background information about anything at ...

Redesigning Cambridge

Sheldon Rothblatt

5 March 1981
Cambridge before Darwin: The Ideal of a Liberal Education 1800-1860 
by Martha McMackin Garland.
Cambridge, 196 pp., £14.50, November 1980, 0 521 23319 4
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... not the oldest but certainly the longest-lived of student secret societies, have made readers familiar with a whole generation of Cantabridgians, of which Connop Thirlwall, Frederic Denison Maurice, AlfredTennyson and John Sterling are the most famous. Professor John Roach and his collaborators in Volume III of the Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire have pulled together much new information on ...

Long Goodbye

Derek Mahon

20 November 1980
Why Brownlee left 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 48 pp., £3, September 1980, 0 571 11592 6
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Poems 1956-1973 
by Thomas Kinsella.
Dolmen, 192 pp., £7.50, September 1980, 0 85105 365 3
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Constantly Singing 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 90 pp., £3.95, June 1980, 0 85640 217 6
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A Part of Speech 
by Joseph Brodsky.
Oxford, 151 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 19 211939 7
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Collected poems 1931-1974 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 350 pp., £9, September 1980, 0 571 18009 4
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... mysterious things are happening, which I can indicate only by posing some questions. What is the significance of the ‘nervous couple’ who register in the park Hotel under the names of Mr and Mrs AlfredTennyson? Who is the old man in shorts with waist-length beard and hair who forgives the narrator and tells him to bring a dish of banana-nut icecream? Is O’Leary of the Police Department on the ...

Dan’s Fate

Craig Raine

3 October 1985
Time and Time Again 
by Dan Jacobson.
Deutsch, 213 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97804 6
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... himself in the mirror but his father. Time, and time again, has passed. And yet more time. At one point he gently shows himself as a callow, would-be writer merely by referring to ‘John Keats and AlfredTennyson’ – two real writers sporting their Christian names like new ties. The landlady in ‘Fate, Art, Love, and George’ is named from Oscar Wilde. She is Miss Bunbury and keeps old personal ...

Darwin Won’t Help

Terry Eagleton: Evocriticism

24 September 2009
On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition and Fiction 
by Brian Boyd.
Harvard, 540 pp., £25.95, May 2009, 978 0 674 03357 3
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... beyond their ken. Or perhaps it was to adapt human sensibilities to new social conditions, re-educating the body to render it suitable for urbanism, technological change or socialist revolution. From AlfredTennyson to the Soviet Proletkultists, the human sensorium was to be reshaped by art. Art would help us come to terms with the fact that Darwin had apparently struck all purpose from the cosmos, or ...

Our Boys

John Bayley

28 November 1996
Emily Tennyson 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 716 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 571 96554 7
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... Lionel Tennyson, the Poet Laureate’s second son, had what might be called an interesting marriage. Interesting from our point of view, however difficult from his own. Like everyone who married a Tennyson, Eleanor Locker had been in their circle since childhood. After her mother’s death her father married an American million-dollar heiress of unbending Quaker principles, and became Frederick Locker ...
7 June 1984
A Portrait of Fryn: A Biography of F. Tennyson​ Jesse 
by Joanna Colenbrander.
Deutsch, 305 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 233 97572 1
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... According to Rebecca West, F. Tennyson Jesse was ‘ideally beautiful. I have never seen a lovelier girl.’ A sketch in Joanna Colenbrander’s biography shows a flat, winsome face with wide, rather fishy eyes; her thin limbs are splayed ...

Sutton who?

J.A. Burrow

21 January 1988
Old English Meter and Linguistic Theory 
by Geoffrey Russom.
Cambridge, 178 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33168 4
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... It is hard to know why the English should nowadays take so little interest in their Anglo-Saxon predecessors. Perhaps the main reasons lie in 20th-century history. The Victorian statue of King Alfred of Wessex which stands in the market square of his birth-place, Wantage, testifies to a pride in that great founding father which modern England no longer feels. We have shrunk, and Alfred has shrunk ...

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