Lord Alfred Tennyson – The Dirty Monk

Day 152 of Colourisation Project – October 6

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Lord Alfred Tennyson was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. Lasting 43 years, his was the longest tenure of any laureate before or since. One of the most highly regarded poets of his period, he is also one of the world’s most anthologized and widely read poets.

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Photographer: Julia Margaret Cameron – Lord Alfred Tennyson 1865 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Noted for its metrical variety, rich imagery and lyrical melodies, his poetry covered a diverse range of subjects; from medieval legends and classical mythology to simple observations of nature. Some of his lasting works include The Charge of the Light Brigade, Ulysses, The Lady of Shalott, Tears, Idle Tears and Idylls of the King.

Queen Victoria was a great fan of Tennyson’s writings and made him the Baron Tennyson of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight in 1884. He was the first Englishman to be granted such a high rank solely for literary distinction.

After Shakespeare, Tennyson is the second most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Some of his most frequently used phrases have even become maxims:

“T’is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”

“Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die”

“Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers”

“A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies”

“In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”

“kind hearts are more than coronets”

“I am a part of all that I have met”

Tennyson died on this day, October 6, 1892 at the age of 83. He was buried in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey, and the copy of Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline, which he had been reading on the night of his death, was placed in his coffin.


Today’s photo is an albumen print from wet collodion glass negative by photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

Tennyson was a major source of inspiration for artists and in particular for Cameron, who lived near him on the Isle of Wight and made at least seven portraits of the poet. Today’s photo was christened The Dirty Monk by Tennyson himself. For Cameron the portrait reflected the ‘Immortal’ poet and was also “a fit representation of Isaiah or Jeremiah”.  Her portraits were often closely framed and allegorical images based on religious and mythical or literary works clearly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite school of art.

This image appears as the frontispiece in Illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Other Poems, vol. 1, by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875.


“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.” 

In Memoriam A.H.H  –   Alfred Lord Tennyson

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Literature, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lord Alfred Tennyson – The Dirty Monk

  1. Pingback: Alice Liddell’s Age of Innocence | Random Phoughts

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