glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809-1892)  
page: 1  2  3  4  

In fact, the only passing reference is found in The Princess when the young feminist states that she and a fellow student are "faster welded in one love / Than pairs of wedlock" (IV 236-237); in hinting at romantic involvement between transgressive women, Tennyson participates in a tendency among the Victorians to portray rebellious women as sexually nonconformist, even homosexual.

This allowed patriarchal Victorian men to claim that the women's movement threatened the very cornerstone of Victorian society: the nuclear, heterosexual family. Certainly it provided one of many excuses contained within the context of the poem for the harsh treatment that the rebellious women receive as they are conquered and reintegrated into Victorian heterosexual culture.


Thus Tennyson clearly does not fit into convenient categories such as "radical" or even "progressive"; rather, he, like so many of his contemporaries, was an eager participant in the ongoing debates on gender roles and the place of emotion and commitment in a society that seemed obsessed with technological progress and the accumulation of wealth.

As part of his explorations of alternative forms for social organization and moral engagement, he looked to bonding as one source for positive (in the case of men) or negative (in the case of women) emotional ties that might have an effect upon the fragmentation that he saw around him.

But homosocial and homosexual desire are not always easily distinguishable, and certainly in In Memoriam the boundary between platonic and actively erotic forms of love seems fuzzy.

In this way, Tennyson challenges are our own ability to classify writers as "gay" and "straight." Though heterosexual, Tennyson wrote poetry dealing with love between men that is still capable of evoking a profound response from gay audiences today and that has an important place in any consideration of gay literary history.

Donald E. Hall

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Literature

   Related Entries
literature >> Overview:  Censorship

Governments, publishers, editors, and even gay writers themselves have censored gay content in literature from the Renaissance to the present.

literature >> Overview:  Elegy

A poetic response to the death of a greatly loved person, the elegy has had since classical times a homoerotic component.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Nineteenth Century

From its beginning, the nineteenth century in England had a purposeful homosexual literature of considerable bulk, both male and female, though it was fettered by oppression.

literature >> Overview:  Identity

Although the question of homosexual identity is a complex one, it has polarized activists, theorists, and literary critics into two primary camps, essentialists and constructionists, both of which can contribute usefully to an understanding of the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

literature >> Overview:  Poetry: Gay Male

The gay tradition in literature from ancient times to the present is primarily a tradition not of prose but of verse.

literature >> Overview:  Romantic Friendship: Male

Critics use the term male romantic friendship to describe strong attachments between men in works ranging from ancient epics and medieval romances to Renaissance plays, Gothic novels, westerns, and war movies.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cambridge Apostles

The Cambridge Apostles, founded in 1820 as a secret society at Cambridge University, is significant for the glbtq cultural legacy because it fostered frank discussions of homosexuality, promoted Platonic love, and helped establish Bloomsbury.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.


Dellamora, Richard. Masculine Desire: The Sexual Politics of Victorian Aestheticism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Faderman, Lillian. Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present. New York: Morrow, 1981.

Hoeveler, Diane. "Manly-Women and Womanly-Men: Tennyson's Androgynous Ideal in The Princess and In Memoriam." Michigan Occasional Papers in Women's Studies. No. 19. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1982.

Martin, Robert Bernard. Tennyson: The Unquiet Heart. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Nunokawa, Jeff. "In Memoriam and the Extinction of the Homosexual." ELH 58 (1991): 427-448.

Ricks, Christopher. Tennyson. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Shaw, Marion. Alfred Lord Tennyson. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1988.

Sinfield, Alan. Alfred Tennyson. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord. The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson. 6 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1903.


    Citation Information
    Author: Hall, Donald E.  
    Entry Title: Tennyson, Alfred Lord  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated October 10, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


This Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.