Reading Tennyson: 23 October 2009

Drawing of Tennyson

A Celebration of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Alfred, Lord Tennyson

On 23rd October 2009, the Faculty of English along with Trinity College, Cambridge, celebrated the bicentennial birthday of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Throughout the day, various members of the Faculty of English read a good portion of his poetic output. These readings were performed in the Judith E Wilson Drama Studio and also broadcast live over the Internet. They are now being made available on this site so that those who missed them on the day can listen to at their leisure.

Please bear in mind that these poems were recorded live and there may be some ambient sounds. Thank you!

Reading Tennyson

Introduction: Prof. Adrian Poole



September 2017: We're pleased to share a new Tennyson resource: The Tennysons Archive at the Cambridge University Digital Library (CUDL), which contains digitised copies of materials held at the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge.


30 June 2010: A recent issue (11 June 2010) of The Times Literary Supplement printed a poem written by Angela Leighton about the experience of this all-day reading. We are printing it here with their kind permission.

Reading In Memoriam
(Cambridge 23.10.09)

Is it ourselves whose voices these words mourn
or else our souls in soundwaves in a room
that pluck occasion from the world's humdrum
and turn noteworthy noting what was done
before our dying started to begin?

Is it for us that In Memoriam
resounds the sounds of sorrow in a room
as if we met the dead in unison
and took their words to taste upon the tongue
to make a conversation from death's song?


Session One:

  1. Ulysses read by Prof. Robin Kirkpatrick
  2. Mariana read by Prof. Robin Kirkpatrick
  3. St Simeon Stylites read by Dr Michael Hurley

Additional poems read by Prof. Adrian Poole

  1. The Charge of the Light Brigade
  2. Lines on Cambridge of 1830
  3. To E. FitzGerald
  4. Demeter and Persephone

Session Two:

  1. Maud; a Monodrama read by Jeremy Hardingham

Session Three:

  1. Song of the Lotos-Eaters read by Ruth Padel
  2. The Lady of Shalott read by Linda Bree
  3. The Splendour Falls Read by Prof. Heather Glen
  4. Tears, Idle Tears read by Ruth Padel
  5. Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal read by Anthony Holden
  6. The Eagle (A Fragment) read by Ruth Padel
  7. From "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington" read by Lady Jane Wellesley
  8. Tithonus read by Sir Frank Kermode
  9. The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet read by Linda Bree

Session Four:

  1. In Memoriam A.H.H read by Various

Session Five:

  1. The Passing of Arthur from Idylls of the King read by Various
  2. Crossing the Bar read by Clive Wilmer