7th July 2009, 11:09am
International conference explores Tennyson’s early life and work
The Young Tennyson Tennyson scholars from around the world will congregate in Lincoln for an international conference which explores the great poet’s early life and career.

The Tennyson Society’s International Bicentenary Conference, The Young Tennyson, will take place at the University of Lincoln from 16-20 July.

The event, which features plenary speakers with international reputations and a range of short-paper sessions by equally distinguished contributors, will attract Tennyson experts and enthusiasts from the USA, Japan, India and many European countries. Members of the public are also welcome to attend the conference.

The actor Gabriel Woolf will perform a reading of a selection of Tennyson’s early poetry and there will also be a coach trip taking in areas of Lincolnshire associated with Tennyson’s early years.

Tennyson was born in 1809 in the village of Somersby in the Lincolnshire Wolds, as the third son of a clergyman.

Professor Marion Shaw, Chairman of the Tennyson Society and Emeritus Professor of English at Loughborough University, said: “His was not a happy childhood. His talented and well-educated father was deeply aggrieved that he had been disinherited by his father and became morose and occasionally violent.”

In 1827 Tennyson entered Trinity College Cambridge, where he met Arthur Henry Hallam. Hallam encouraged Tennyson’s poetry so that two volumes containing some of his most memorable poems, such as Mariana and The Lady of Shalott, were published in 1830 and 1832. In 1833 Arthur Hallam died suddenly whilst on holiday with his father.

“Tennyson was bereft of a friend and also a literary guide,” added Professor Shaw. “But the loss provided Tennyson with the theme of his long, major poem In Memoriam, composed over the next seventeen years, which addressed not only individual loss but also the anxieties and doubts of the whole Victorian age. It still is a source of both consolation and profound meditation on mortality and the meaning of life.”

The Young Tennyson conference will focus on this important period of Tennyson’s life, up to and including the year 1850, when he was 41 years old. It was an eventful year: Tennyson published In Memoriam, he got married, and he became Poet Laureate. After this date he became an established figure, with a home in the Isle of Wight, a secure domestic life, and a large and admiring public, ranging from the Queen to working-class people, and from devout Christians to avowed atheists or agnostics.

Members of the public are welcome to join all or any part of the conference. Individual lectures cost £5 to attend. Tickets can be obtained from the Conference Office at the University of Lincoln by emailing conferences@lincoln.ac.uk or phoning 01522 886407. A programme of lectures and a booking form are available on the University’s web site www.lincoln.ac.uk.
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