The Tennyson Brothers

The Tennyson Brothers
(1807-1898), Frederick, Turner Charles and Lord Alfred
   The three poet brothers were the sons of the Rev. Dr. George Clayton Tennyson, rector of Somersby, a village in North Lincolnshire, between Horncastle and Spilsby. Frederick, Charles (who later adopted the name Turner when he inherited a small property from a great-uncle), and Alfred contributed to Poems by Two Brothers (1827). Charles and Alfred married sisters Louisa and Emily Sellwood.
   • Frederick, 1807-1898
   Educated at Eton College, he graduated B.A from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1832, having gained the Browne medal for Greek verse; he then spent twenty years in Florence, Italy, in close companionship with Elizabeth and Robert Browning (see entries). Discouraged by the criticism of his poetry, he published no more until 1890, when The Isles of Greece, based upon a few surviving fragments of Sappho and Alcæus, was published. Daphne followed in 1891; he also published Days and Hours (1854) and Poems of the Day and Year (1895). He married Maria Giuliotti, daughter of the chief magistrate of Siena, in 1839, and remained in Italy until 1859, then lived in St. Ewold's, Jersey, until 1896. He died at his son's house in Kensington, London. Some of his other poems: "An Incident," "Glory of Nature," "Harvest Home," "Iona," "Old Age," "Poetical Happiness," "The Holy Tide," "The Skylark."
   • Turner Charles, 1808-1879
   Educated at Louth Grammar School, then at home by his father, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on the same day as Frederick and won the Bell scholarship (open to the sons of clergymen) in 1829. He graduated B.A. from Trinity College in 1832 and was ordained in 1835. Poor health forced his resignation from his living at Grasby, Lincolnshire, and he died at Cheltenham. His nephew Hallam (the second Lord Tennyson), writing of his uncle in the year following his death, tells of the charm of his personality, his fondness for flowers, for dogs and horses, and all living things, and his sweetness and gentleness of character. Some of his poems: "After the School-Feast," "Beau Nash and the Roman," "Christ and Orpheus," "The Aeolian Harp," "The Steam Threshing-Machine," "The Transfiguration," "Wind on the Corn," "Wölf and the Casket."
   • Lord Alfred (1809-1892)
   Educated at Louth Grammar School, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, with his two brothers, where he joined the "Cambridge Apostles." In 1829 he won the chancellor's medal for English verse on the subject of "Timbuctoo." He left Cambridge in 1831, without taking a degree, to care for his ill father, who died within a month. He and his mother lived on at Somersby until 1837, after which they moved to Essex. Tennyson succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate in 1850, in the same year as he produced his masterpiece "In Memoriam A.H.H.," dedicated to his friend and brother-in-law Arthur Hallam, who died in 1833. He was created Baron Tennyson of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight; he was the first English writer raised to the peerage. His poem "Crossing the Bar" was set to music by Sir Frank Bridge and first sung at his funeral in Westminster Abbey, where he is buried in Poets' Corner, next to Robert Browning. Some of his other poems: "Audley Court," "Columbus," "Idylls of the King," "Locksley Hall," "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "To Mary Boyle," "To the Queen," "To Ulysses."
   Sources: A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850. Paula R. Feldman and Daniel Robinson, eds. Oxford University Press, 1999. A Sacrifice of Praise: An Antholog y of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century. James H. Trott, ed. Cumberland House Publishing, 1999. Collected Sonnets of Turner, Charles Tennyson. Gregg International Publishers, 1880. Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, 2006. English Poetry: Author Search. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1995 ( Everyman's Book of Victorian Verse. J.R. Watson, ed. J.M. Dent, 1982. Golden Numbers. Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith, eds. Doubleday, Doran, 1902. Immortal Poems of the English Language. Oscar Williams, ed. Simon and Schuster, 1952. Microsoft Encarta 2006 (DVD). Microsoft Corporation, 2006. O Frabjous Day: Poetry for Holidays and Special Occasions. Myra Cohn Livingston, ed. Atheneum, 1977. Poet's Graves, Alfred Lord Tennyson ( Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources ( Tennyson: A Selected Edition. Christopher Ricks, ed. University of California Press, 1989. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 ( The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse. Tom Paulin, Faber and Faber, 1990. The Golden Book of Catholic Poetry. Alfred Noyes, ed. J.B. Lippincott, 1946. The Harper Anthology of Poetry. John Frederick Nims, ed. Harper and Row, 1981. The Oxford Book of Nineteenth-Century English Verse. John Hayward, ed. Oxford University Press, 1964; reprinted, with corrections, 1965. The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse. Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971. Westminster Abbey Official Guide (no date). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. (

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