The fourth child of an Anglican clergyman, Alfred Tennyson knew from an early age that he would be a poet. By the time he left his home in Lincolnshire County for Trinity College at Cambridge University, he had already composed a large body of work, much of it influenced by both neoclassic and Romantic writers such as Percy Bysshe Shelley. At Cambridge, Tennyson met Arthur Henry Hallam, acknowledged by many as one of the most promising men of his generation. The two became fast friends, and Hallam helped Tennyson publish volumes of his poetry in 1830 and 1832. Their friendship was further solidified when Hallam became engaged to the poet’s sister Emily. Tennyson’s world was shattered, however, when the twenty-two-year-old Hallam died of a cerebral hemorrhage while traveling in Austria in 1833.
Almost immediately after Hallam’s death, Tennyson began writing poems to capture his sense of loss. Some were published in his 1842 volume of poetry, the most notable being “Ulysses” and “Morte d’Arthur.” For more than a dozen years, however, he composed many disparate short lyrics on the same theme; only in the late 1840’s did he determine to organize them to form a long elegiac meditation on the ideas of friendship, love, death, and immortality. By 1850, he had written a prologue to introduce the themes of his collection and included an epilogue to carry the process of his meditation from sorrow at the death of his friend to joy at the celebration of the wedding of his sister. At the suggestion of his fiancé, Emily Sellwood, Tennyson titled his newly made long poem In Memoriam.
(The entire section is 669 words.)