3 October 2017: Alfred Tennyson
Today marks the 125th anniversary of Alfred Tennyson’s death. Tennyson was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland for the vast majority of Queen Victoria’s reign. He is remembered for his writing of short lyrics and many of his works were based on mythological themes. Notable works include ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, ‘Break, Break, Break’ and his commemoratory work ‘In Memoriam A.H.H’ written for his friend Arthur Hallam.
In honour of the great poet we have selected several of our favourite Tennyson works from our library here at Rooke Books.
We have several copies of Tennyson’s complete poetical works as can be seen from the photographs below. One of note is the lovely copy in a quarter vellum binding, with cloth covered boards. This particular copy is the 1908 ‘Oxford Edition’ and has a portrait frontispiece of Tennyson. Click here to view our listing for the quarter vellum copy. Alternatively, you can visit the individual listings for the books photographed below by clicking on the photographs.
The second on our list is a lovely first illustrated edition of Enoch Arden. It is in the original publisher’s green pictorial cloth binding with decorative gilt stamping to the boards and boasts twenty five illustrations by Arthur Hughes. The illustrations have been engraved by the famous Dalziel Brothers. The story of Enoch Arden was provided to Tennyson by Thomas Woolner. Click here to view our listing.
We couldn’t list our favourite Tennyson works and not include our first edition of Idylls of the King. Published in 1859, the first edition contains the first four poems of this eventual twelve poem cycle. Idylls retells the legend of King Arthur as well as the rise and fall of his kingdom. All poems are written in blank verse. The poems to this copy are ‘Enid’, ‘Vivien’, ‘Elaine’ and ‘Guinevere’. Click here to view our listing.
Another first edition Tennyson in our collection is his Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. This was Tennyson’s first separate publication on becoming poet laureate. The first edition of this poem is shorter by 29 lines compared to later editions. This is the only copy to exist with fewer lines as Tennyson heavily altered the poem for subsequent editions. This copy is in its original wraps, making it even scarcer. Our copy is also from the library of noted book collector Hugh Selbourne. Click here to view our listing.
Our library also boasts a collection of Tennyson’s lyrical poems in a beautiful Zaehnsdorf binding. This 1885 copy of his lyrical poems was issued by Macmillan. The poems have been selected and annotated by popular British critic, Francis Turner Palgrave. Click here to view our listing.
The final listing in this post is a Nonesuch Press copy of In Memoriam. The Nonesuch Press specialised in limited edition and private press. They were founded by Francis Meynell, his second wife Vera Mendel and their friend David Garnett. Their aspiration was for their publications to be aligned with the same aesthetic standards as the private press movement. They were unusual as they used a small Albion press to design the books, but had them printed by commercial printers. In doing so, books with the quality of a fine-press were produced, but available to a wider audience at lower prices. This particular copy is numbered 817 of 2,000 copies. It was printed on Van Gelder paper in the Baldo type. Click here to view our listing.
Of course this is just a small sample of the many works of Tennyson we have in our library. Click here to see more, or please don't hesitate to contact us.