To Strive, to Seek, to Find
An enthralling new biography of Lord Alfred Tennyson: the major poet of his age, and the Queen's Laureate from 1850 until his death in 1892.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Queen Victoria’s favourite poet, commanded a wider readership than any other of his time. His ascendancy was neither the triumph of pure genius nor an accident of history:he skilfully crafted his own career and his relationships with his audience. Fame and recognition came, lavishly and in abundance, but the hunger for more never left him. Like many successful Victorians, he was a provincial determined to make good in the capital while retaining his regional strengths. One of eleven children, he remained close to his extended family and never lost his Lincolnshire accent.Resolving never to be anything except ‘a poet’, he wore his hair long, smoked incessantly and sported a cloak and wide-brimmed Spanish hat.
Tennyson ranged widely in his poetry, turning his interests in geology, evolution and Arthurian legend into verse, but much of his workrelates to his personal life. The tragic loss of Arthur Hallam, a brilliant friend and fellow Apostle at Cambridge, fed into some of his most successful and best-known poems. It took Tennyson seventeen years to complete his great elegy for Hallam, In Memoriam, a work which established his fame and secured his appointment as Poet Laureate.
The poet who wrote The Lady of Shalott and The Charge of the Light Brigade has become a permanent part of our culture. This enjoyable and thoughtful new biography shows him as a Romantic as well as a Victorian, exploring both the poems and Tennyson’s attempts at play writing, as well as the pressures of his age and the personal relationships that made the man.
“This is a biography for everybody interested in poetry”
Antonia Fraser, Mail on Sunday
“Batchelor’s book is a useful reminder of what makes Tennyson a brilliant poet: it points the reader back in the direction of the poems”
Emma Hogan, New Statesman
“John Batchelor has written a biography which is commendably careful, highly readable and wholly sensible. It should stand, in years to come, as the most advisable entry point into this most inscrutable of poets”
“By far the most serious and just biography of Tennyson in a long time”
Wall Street Journal
“It's a pleasure when a biographer is as good a reader of poems as of life”
New York Times Book Review
“Batchelor tells Tennyson’s story with verve, vigour and assurance and transforms our view of him. His book is as much a reading of the Victorian age as of its favourite poet”
Steve Barfield, Lady
“Batchelor pinpoints the amazing alignment of Tennyson’s verse with the mood of Victorian Britain at large. His scholarly approach results in densely written text but his devotion to his subject and the period drenches the book with intimacy and heartfelt affection”
Jeffrey Taylor, Sunday Express