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Alfred Tennyson was born August 6th 1809 at Somersby Lincolnshire fourth of twelve children of George and Elizabeth Fytche Tennyson The poets grandfather had violated tradition by making his younger son Charles his heir and arranging for the poets father to enter the ministry See the Tennyson Family Tree The contrast of his own familys relatively straitened circumstances to the great wealth of his aunt Elizabeth Russell and uncle Charles Tennyson who lived in castles made Tennyson feel particularly impoverished and led him to worry about money all his life He also had a lifelong fear of mental illness for several men in his family had a mild form of epilepsy which was then thought a shameful disease His father and brother Arthur made their cases worse by excessive drinking His brother Edward had to be confined in a mental institution after 1833 and he himself spent a few weeks under doctors care in 1843 In the late twenties his fathers physical and mental condition worsened and he became paranoid abusive and violent In 1827 Tennyson escaped the troubled atmosphere of his home when he followed his two older brothers to Trinity College Cambridge where his tutor was William Whewell -- see 19th century philosophy Because they had published Poems by Two Brothers in 1827 and each won university prizes for poetry Alfred winning the Chancellors Gold Medal in 1828 for Timbuctoo the Tennyson brothers became well known at Cambridge In 1829 The Apostles an undergraduate club whose members remained Tennysons friends all his life invited him to join The group which met to discuss major philosophical and other issues included Arthur Henry Hallam James Spedding Edward Lushington who later married Cecilia Tennyson and Richard Monckton Milnes--all eventually famous men who merited entries in the Dictionary of National Biography Arthur Hallams was the most important of these friendships Hallam another precociously brilliant Victorian young man like Robert Browning John Stuart Mill and
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