Notes on Editions and Selected Reading
[ Especially items with asterisks ]
The standard text is *** The Poems of Tennyson, ed. Christopher Ricks (2nd edn., incorporating the Trinity College MSS; 3 vols.; Harlow: Longman, 1987), of which there is a handy one-volume paperback abridgement, Tennyson: A Selected Edition (Harlow: Longman, 1989) containing all the major poems. Ricks’s apparatus incorporates Tennyson’s own notes on his poems: these were first published in the ‘Eversley’ edition of Tennyson’s Works, edited by his son Hallam (9 vols.; London: Macmillan, 1907–8). There are several other useful editions: of the 1842 Poems, by Christopher Ricks (London: Collins, 1968); of In Memoriam, by Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982); of Maud, by Susan Shatto (London: Athlone Press, 1986); and of Idylls of the King, by J. M. Gray (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983). John Pfordresher has edited a weighty ‘variorum’ edition of the Idylls (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973), detailing all variants between Eversley and the surviving manuscripts, proofs, and earlier published versions. Readers wishing to pursue Tennyson the playwright must consult Eversley, or, more conveniently, the old Oxford Standard Authors Poetical Works, Including the Plays (London: Oxford University Press, 1953, often reprinted – latterly under the title Poems and Plays). Christopher Ricks and Aidan Day have edited The Tennyson Archive (31 vols.; New York: Garland, 1987–93), an immense enterprise, which reproduces all Tennyson’s extant manuscripts in facsimile.
The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson are edited in three volumes by Cecil Y. Lang and Edgar F. Shannon, Jr. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982–90). Hallam’s letters have also been published: The Letters of Arthur Henry Hallam, edited by Jack Kolb (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1981); and his works, many of Tennysonian interest, are collected in The Writings of Arthur Hallam, edited by T. H. Vail Motter (New York: MLA, 1943). There is an edition of Lady Tennyson’s Journal by James O. Hoge (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1981). Finally, not a text by Tennyson but one much influenced by him, and an immense influence in its turn on nineteenth-century English taste: Francis Palgrave’s Golden Treasury. The edition by Ricks (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991) records Tennyson’s contribution in the notes.
The essential starting point remains Hallam Tennyson’s * Alfred, Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by his Son (2 vols.; London: Macmillan, 1897, sometimes reprinted in one volume). The Memoir has often been criticized: there is a noble defence in Christopher Ricks, Essays in Appreciation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 172–205; and see also Philip L. Elliott, The Making of the Memoir (2nd edn.; Lincoln: Tennyson Society, 1993). Hallam had privately printed a four-volume Materials for a Life of A. T. Collected for my Children (c.1895), which is very rare: there is a copy in Bodley. Hallam also collected a volume of essays in reminiscence, Tennyson and his Friends (London: Macmillan, 1911). * Tennyson: Interviews and Recollections, ed. Norman Page (London: Macmillan, 1983), enlighteningly gathers together many contemporary accounts. The most vivid sense of the great man emerges from the pages of William Allingham’s Diary (1907; repr. Fontwell: Centaur Press, 1967). Also important is James Knowles, ‘Aspects of Tennyson’, Nineteenth Century, 33 (1893), 164–88.
Modern biographies begin with Sir Charles Tennyson’s excellent Alfred Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1949), which first revealed the depression and despair of Somersby. Distinguished successors include Joanna Richardson, The Pre-Eminent Victorian (London: Cape, 1962); Christopher Ricks, ** Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1972; 2nd edn., Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), which is a life as well as a critical study; and Robert Bernard Martin, Tennyson: The Unquiet Heart (Oxford/London: Clarendon Press/Faber, 1980). F. B. Pinion has compiled A Tennyson Chronology (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990). There is a good account of ‘Apostles’ culture in Paul Allen, The Cambridge Apostles: The Early Years (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978).
CRITICISM AND SCHOLARSHIP
Albright, Daniel, Tennyson: The Muses’ Tug-of-War (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1986).
Armstrong, Isobel, ‘The Collapse of Object and Subject: In Memoriam’, in Language as Living Form in Nineteenth-Century Poetry (Brighton: Harvester, 1982), 172–205.
—— * Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics (London: Routledge, 1993).
—— (ed.), Major Victorian Poets: Reconsiderations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969).
Auden, W. H., * ‘Tennyson’, in Forewords and Afterwords, selected by Edward Mendelson (London: Faber, 1973), 221–32. Originally the introduction to Tennyson: An Introduction and a Selection (1946).
Bayley, John, * ‘Tennyson and the Idea of Decadence’, in Hallam Tennyson (ed.), Studies in Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1981), 186–205. A marvellously ramificatory account of the comedies of poetic self-consciousness in Tennyson.
—— ‘The Dynamics of the Static’, Times Literary Supplement, 3 Mar. 1978, 247.
Beer, John, ‘Tennyson, Coleridge, and the Cambridge Apostles’, in Philip Collins (ed.), Tennyson: Seven Essays (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992), 1–35.
Bradley, A. C., A Commentary on Tennyson’s In Memoriam (3rd edn.; London: Macmillan, 1910).
—— The Reaction against Tennyson (English Association Pamphlet 39; Oxford: English Association, 1917); collected in A. C. Bradley, A Miscellany (London: Macmillan, 1929).
Brooks, Cleanth, ‘The Motivation of Tennyson’s Weeper’; in John Killham (ed.), Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960), 177–85.
Byatt, A. S., ‘The Lyric Structure of Tennyson’s Maud’; in Isobel Armstrong (ed.), Major Victorian Poets: Reconsiderations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), 69–92.
Campbell, Matthew, Rhythm and Will in Victorian Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). A subtle and readerly account, with many observations finely made of Tennyson.
Chesterton, G. K., The Victorian Age in Literature (London: Oxford University Press, 1913, often reprinted). Still full of tendentiously good things.
Christ, Carol T., ‘The Feminine Subject in Victorian Poetry’, English Literary History 54 (1987), 385–401.
—— Victorian and Modern Poetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). A revisionary account that argues for the continuity of Victorian and modernist poetry.
Collins, Philip (ed.), Tennyson: Seven Essays (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992).
Cronin, Richard, Romantic Victorians: English Literature, 1824–1840 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001). Especially good on the political influences upon the earlier Tennyson.
Culler, A. Dwight, * The Poetry of Tennyson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977). An encompassing and humane book.
Dean, D.R., Tennyson and the Geologists (Lincoln: Tennyson Society, 1985). A good account of Tennyson’s troubled interest in contemporary developments in the earth sciences.
Dodsworth, Martin, ‘Patterns of Morbidity: Repetition in Tennyson’s Poetry’, in Isobel Armstrong (ed.), Major Victorian Poets: Reconsiderations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), 7–34.
Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert, * Victorian Afterlives: The Shaping of Influence in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), esp. 182–269. An agile, accomplished book.
Eliot, T. S., ** ‘In Memoriam’, in T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays (3rd edn.; London: Faber, 1951; repr., 1980), 328–38.
Griffiths, Eric, ** ‘Tennyson’s Breath’, in The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 97-170. Criticism of immense elegance and insight.
—— * ‘Tennyson’s Idle Tears’, in Phillip Collins, Tennyson: Seven Essays (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992), 36–60.
Hair, Donald S., Tennyson’s Language (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991).
Hilton, Nelson, ‘Tennyson’s “Tears”: Idle, Idol, Idyl’, Essays in Criticism, 35 (1985), 223–37.
Hough, Graham, * ‘The Natural Theology of In Memoriam’, Review of English Studies, 23 (1947), 244–56.
Hunt, John Dixon (ed.), Tennyson: In Memoriam: A Casebook (London: Macmillan, 1970).
Jordan, Elaine, Alfred Tennyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
Jump, John D. (ed.), ** Tennyson: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967). An invaluable volume, which gathers the most important contemporary critical responses. Read the pieces by Hallam, Leigh Hunt, Sterling, Spedding, Christopher North, Mill, Kingsley, Bagehot, Hopkins, Swinburne, and Hutton.
Kennedy, Ian H. C., ‘In Memoriam and the Tradition of Pastoral Elegy’, Victorian Poetry, 15 (1977), 351–66.
Killham, John (ed.), Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960).
—— * Tennyson and The Princess: Reflections of an Age (London: Athlone Press, 1958). A well-researched placing of the work in its political moment.
Langbaum, Robert, The Poetry of Experience: The Dramatic Monologue in Modern Literary Tradition (1957; repr., London: Chatto & Windus, 1972), esp. 87–93.
Lang, Cecil Y., Tennyson’s Arthurian Psycho-Drama (Lincoln: Tennyson Society, 1983).
Leighton, Angela, * ‘Touching Forms: Tennyson and Aestheticism’, Essays in Criticism, 52 (2002), 56–75. A finely suggestive essay about Tennyson’s relationship with the idea of ‘art for art’s sake’.
McLuhan, H. M., ‘Tennyson and Picturesque Poetry’, in John Killham (ed.), Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960), 67–85.
Mays, J. C. C., ‘In Memoriam: An Aspect of Form’, University of Toronto Quarterly, 35 (1965–6), 22–46.
Paden, W. D., Tennyson in Egypt: A Study of the Imagery in his Earlier Work (Lawrence, KA: University of Kansas Press, 1942).
Pattison, Robert, Tennyson and Tradition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979).
Peltason, Timothy, Reading ‘In Memoriam’ (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985).
Priestley, F. E. L., Language and Structure in Tennyson’s Poetry (London: Deutsch, 1973).
Rader, Ralph Wilson, Tennyson’s Maud: The Biographical Genesis (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1963).
Reynolds, Matthew, * The Realms of Verse 1830–1870: English Poetry in a Time of Nation-Building (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), esp. 203–73. Impressively contextualized, closely read.
Richardson, James, Vanishing Lives: Style and Self in Tennyson, D. G. Rossetti, Swinburne, and Yeats (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1988).
Ricks, Christopher, ** Tennyson (2nd edn.; Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989). The best account of the poet, which reads the work beautifully and relates it to the life with great tact.
—— ‘Tennyson’, in Allusion to the Poets (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 179–216. An essay about Tennyson’s allusiveness, first published as ‘Tennyson Inheriting the Earth’, in Hallam Tennyson (ed.), Studies in Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1981), 66–104.
—— ‘Tennyson’s Methods of Composition’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 52 (1966), 209–30. Partially repeated in Christopher Ricks, Tennyson (2nd edn.; Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), 281–94.
Robson, W. W., ‘The Dilemma of Tennyson’, in John Killham (ed.), Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960), 155–63.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, ‘Tennyson’s Princess: One Bride for Seven Brothers’, in Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 118–33; repr. in Rebecca Stott (ed.), Tennyson (Longman Critical Readers; Harlow: Longman, 1996), 181–96.
Shannon, Edgar Finley, Jr., Tennyson and the Reviewers: A Study of his Literary Reputation and of the Influence of the Critics upon his Poetry 1827-1851 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 1952).
Shaw, W. David, Elegy and Paradox: Testing the Conventions (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), esp. 210–35. Contains a suggestive chapter on Tennyson, mindful of genre.
—— Tennyson’s Style (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976). An intelligent, ranging essay.
Shaw, Marion, * Alfred Lord Tennyson (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1988). Among the most illuminating and sympathetic feminist accounts.
Sinfield, Alfred, Alfred Tennyson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986). An influential, revisionary reading: Tennyson as the embodiment of an ideologically motivated institution, ‘Literature’.
—— The Language of Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ (Oxford, 1971).
—— ‘Tennyson and the Cultural Politics of Prophecy’, in Rebecca Stott (ed.), Tennyson (Longman Critical Readers; Harlow: Longman, 1996), 33–53.
Steane, J. B., Tennyson (London: Evans Brothers, 1966). An introduction in the ‘Literature in Perspective’ series, now little remarked; but F. W. Bateson thought it ‘very clever’, and rightly.
Stott, Rebecca (ed.), Tennyson (Longman Critical Readers; London: Longman, 1996).
Tennyson, Charles, ‘Tennyson as a Humourist’, in Six Tennyson Essays (London: Cassell, 1954).
Tennyson, Hallam (ed.), Studies in Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1981).
Tucker, Herbert F., Tennyson and the Doom of Romanticism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). Clever, intricate, weighty. It is also worth consulting the article that forms the germ of the book, * ‘Tennyson and the Measure of Doom’, PMLA 98 (1983), 8–20.
— (ed.), Critical Essays on Alfred Lord Tennyson (New York: Macmillan, 1993).
Turner, Paul, Tennyson (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976). Well attuned especially to classical echoes.
The Tennyson Society (www.tennysonsociety.org.uk/tennyson/) annually publishes a consistently interesting journal, Tennyson Research Bulletin (1967– ). The society issues, additionally, occasional papers and specialized monographs (some are included above).