Friday, February 28, 2014

My day of research on Alfred Lord Tennyson including his family and friends - Part One

Alfred Tennyson engraving by F. Hollyer, Housed at The Morgan Library and Museum, NYC

I was absolutely filled with a nervous excitement that I almost forgot what it felt like to be this anxious. I never forget to be grateful when getting an opportunity to visit free of charge with the express intention of doing my own research on a man that I have grown to sincerely love, Alfred Lord Tennyson. I have been researching his life and works since 2011 and this was and is the first time I actually, physically looked upon and held in my own two hands his handwritten letters! My hands were shaking the entire time; hour after hour, I did not stop for a break, even though my stomach rumbled so loudly I thought for sure the two other people quite near me could hear me! I was so nervous I couldn't eat any food that morning. NOTHING...I tried toast but even with the rumbly in my tumbly it was  no use, I just couldn't hold it down! 

One of Alfred Tennyson's letters not kept at The Morgan Library but one I found online. 
I wanted to add it for fun and because of Tennyson's words he writes:

"I am much obliged to you, though sorry for the result of your research." Tennyson writes 
from Farringford House on the Isle of White to an unnamed person, dated October 11, 1860.

As I sat down the female employee brought out my list of eight items; the maximum number allowed. I focused on Alfred's letters mainly as well as his families letters as I said before. The first item listed was one of two books in Tennyson's possession. His 1853 Moxon Edition of Ode to Wellington. It was maroon colored leather bound with gold embossed letters on the front, back, and spine.

Did I fail to mention what makes this edition of Ode to Wellington so important? Tennyson gave it as a gift to his good friend and neighbor on the Isle of Wight, Julia Margaret Cameron! That's right.  When you open it, the first page on the top going across the page in  penciled handwriting is Mrs. Cameron's words, 'Hardinge Hay Cameron from his mother January 12, 48 (1848). Then down below it on the right side in dark ink reads, 

'Julia Cameron
from 
ATennyson'

Alfred Tennyson's inscription directly below Julia Margaret Camerons' there together as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I almost couldn't breathe and I turned page after page thinking, Mrs. Cameron held this book, treasured this book, passed it on to her son and it's inscribed by her dear friend, Alfred Lord Tennyson and I'm sitting in my hometown and not in Lincolnshire, England or on the Isle of Wight either!  

The next item I reserved was the notebook which looked very similar to the one posted above. It was a manuscript notebook hardbound in red leather with gold lettering on the side only reading, 'Tennyson Poems and Letters.'  There it was an item I had only read about in his numerous biographies both nineteenth-century and modern ones - one of Alfred Tennyson's own notebooks and inside it were ten pages of his poem Northern Farmer and one page containing a paragraph from Idylls of the King!  Also, a prominent item was the 'Dedication to Queen Victoria of The Laureate' published in Tennyson's Works.

1)  As I flipped through the pages of Tennyson's handwriting, one letter was included written to a man named Palgrave on plain paper and undated. A short but interesting letter:
 Friday

My dear Palgrave,
I am for some days at Burlington House; if you can, you will come and see me.

Yours,
ATennyson

2)  Another letter Tennyson wrote to his publisher, Edward Moxon was on the following notebook page just staring out at me undated on plain paper:
My dear Moxon,
I left a corrected sheet with greening which he does not seem to have acted upon, however I have put down in these the two or three lines I intended to insert 'sdeath' in side be printed not  'S deaths. 

I have written one or two papers for the greater clarinels twice over: don't let them print these twice over in their stupidity. surely I may depend on you or your brother without having the sheets resent to me. I see the old misprint of marbled stained is changed.  Yet I feel quite sure I corrected it. You shall have the poems in a day or two.
Ever yours,
A Tennyson

3)  Another letter in the notebook Tennyson wrote to a man named G.J. Whittier from his home Aldworth on same letterhead: 
Aldworth
Haslemere
Surrey
Dear Mr. Whittier,
Your request has been forwarded to me and I herein send you an epitaph for Gordon in our Westminster Abbey i.e. for the cenotaph.

Warrin of God, man's friend-not here below, point somewhere dead for in the waste handon, Thou givest in all hearts, for all men know this earth has borne no simpler nobler man.

With best wishes
Yours very faithfully
May 4th 85  -  Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson's letter to Sir John Everett Millais, Pre-Raphaelite Painter and good friend of his. Here is a brief letter from Tennyson to Millais on Farringford House stationery: 

Farringford
Freshwater
Isle of Wight

My dear Millais,

Very good of you to remember me. 
What splendidly - rambunctious kids! 

Tennyson
Nov. 17th - 89







Sir John Everett Millais  --->



The envelope was addressed to J.E. Millais:

Sir John E. Millais
Birnam Hall
Birnam, Perthshire, N.B.

This letter stands out to me because it was written by Hallam Tennyson; eldest son of Alfred and Emily Tennyson. In it he discusses Millais now famous portrait of his father. It is written on Farringford stationery:

Farringford
Freshwater
Isle of Wight
May 17/81

Dear Mr. Millais,

Very many thanks for the letter. The testimony on all orders to the excellence of the portrait delights us. To tell you my secret I am sorry that it has not been purchased for a great public gallery of pictures, so that it might have become  a possession of or the nation. Indeed, I wish I had known the facts of its being repurchasable while we were in london, tho perhaps this sounds rather ungracious to the present purchaser whose signifigance in the purchase I fully admit. We are glad that it is probably to be engraved by Barlow, so that we can all hope to have so fine  a work.
With my kind remembrance I return the letter.

Yours very truly,
Hallam Tennyson 






Part Two will contain four more letters: One from Emily Tennyson and three more from Alfred Tennyson including a discussion about the photograph of himself with his sons taken by Julia Margaret Cameron and more with John Everett Millais...


4 comments:

Stephanie Cowell said...

It made me tremulous also to read of your excitement.It is a long time since I have done this sort of research and I always wanted to do it at the Morgan. You write so vividly about it! I lived it through you!

Kimberly Eve said...

Hi Stephanie,
Oh, you must do some research at the Morgan one day. They make the application process very easy. I was thinking of you while doing my Tennyson research because included in one large folder of his letters were three letters from a man you like very much a Mr. Charles Dodgson! They were fascinating reading as well :)
Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

Pamela De Leon said...

I have been away a month, teaching, but I have missed wonderful posts and writing such as this one. You gave me great joy to hear of your excitement of holding originals in hand. You love history as much as I do, Kimberly. Yet, I felt a thrill just knowing you spent a day doing what I would have done given the opportunity...and you loved it just as much as I would have. I love the profile picture of Tennyson and what a strong impressive signature he had!

Kimberly Eve said...

Hi Pamela,
I'm glad my joy and bliss came through so much! It makes me happy to know we love history and research so much. You know exactly how I felt :)
Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. So wonderful to see your name and comment here.

Thank you and Farewell

This will be my last and final blog post. Due to my work schedule and private life, I sadly must bring this blog to a close. It is no...