Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
About Alfred Tennyson
Lord Alfred Tennyson was born in the August of 1809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire to George and Elizabeth Tennyson. George, a pastor in the local church, encouraged his son in the classics, and the boy became particularly enchanted by the tales and legends of King Arthur.
During his teenage years his father's mental health deteriorated and he became incredibly paranoid and abusive. Seeking to get away from his family's difficult situation, Tennyson enrolled in Trinity College in 1827 where his two older brothers were studying. His mentor during this period was William Whewell, the noted nineteenth century philosopher and scientist. While there, he and his brother Charles published the Poems By Two Brothers, one of which (Timbuctoo) earned him the Chancellor's Gold medal in 1829.
The book caught the eye of Arthur Hallam who headed a student society, the Cambridge Apostles and Tennyson was invited to join. The members, promising poets and writers all, were an incredibly tight knit group and retained a lifelong friendship. In particular, Hallam and Tennyson were in what in modern day terminology we would call BFFs.
While on a visit to Tennyson's home Arthur met his sister Emilia. The two fell madly in love and shortly thereafter the two were engaged. While the Tennyson's were fine with the idea, the elder Mr. Hallam was not amused and forbade Arthur, aged twenty at the time, from visiting again until he turned twenty one. After the prescribed time was over, Arthur visited again in the February of 1832 and then again in July.
On the 3rd of that August, Arthur left with his father on a trip for Europe. On September 15th he was dead. After a slight bout with the ague, Arthur Hallam had suffered a stroke at the tender age of twenty two. His death affected Alfred greatly, and many of his later writings were devoted to him.
To top off an already awful year, when his second book was published it was met with, what was to him, scathing criticism. He was terribly hurt by the lack of a standing ovation and refrained from publishing for nearly ten years.
In 1850 he married Emily Sellwood whom he had previously been engaged to but had been forced to end their engagement when he lost all of his money in a bad investment. In that same year, after the death of William Woodworth, Queen Victoria appointed him as Poet Laureate of the British Empire. He also published In Memoriam, dedicated to Arthur Hallam.
In the August of 1852 his first son was born and promptly named Hallam after his deceased friend. His second son Lionel followed two years later in the March of fifty-four.
In 1855, while reading about the suicidal charge of the Light Brigade in the paper, Tennyson jotted down his most famous poem in a few moments. It immediately proved to be wildly popular and was distributed to the soldiers remaining in Crimea.
After refusing a Baronetcy twice from Benjamin Disraeli, it was proffered once again by Queen Victoria in 1884 and this time accepted. He was appointed Baron of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and Freshwater on the Isle of Wight.
On October 6th 1892 Lord Alfred Tennyson died at the old age of 83 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He was succeeded as Baron by his son Hallam.
The Charge Of The Light Brigade By Lord Alfred Tennyson
Half a league, half a league,
Poems by Alfred Tennyson
Quotes by Alfred Tennyson