Sarah Orne Jewett House

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was one of the most famous poets of the nineteenth century.

As Poet Laureate of Queen Victoria’s England, Tennyson was charged with praising the advance of industry, but felt drawn to nature’s beauty instead. The conflict between urban forces and the natural world is a recurring theme in Jewett’s work.

Tennyson’s photograph portrait, taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, hangs over the Library hearth as it did in 1931. In 2014, during the authentication process to prove the portrait was the work of Cameron, Historic New England collections staff found the photograph to be dated 1882, the year of Jewett’s first trip to England with Annie Fields. Fields knew Tennyson and arranged a visit. To her sister Mary, Jewett wrote while still in England, “Now I wish I could tell you about the best of it for I really have seen Tennyson!” (Letter to Mary Rice Jewett, Sunday, June 25, 1882) MS Am 1743 (255), Houghton Library, Harvard University. Transcription by Terry Heller, Coe College.