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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 952 MS Eng 952.1 MS Eng 952.2

Alfred Tennyson papers


Drafts of poems by British poet Alfred Tennyson as well as letters and poems sent to the Rawnsley family.


  • 1823-1892

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to originals restricted. Readers must use the published facsimile: f EC85.T2586.987t v. 1-7

Conditions Governing Use

Sir Charles Tennyson stipulated that these manuscripts may be quoted in literary and biographical studies, and may be employed in variorum notes to an edition, but they are not to be used to change or "improve" the accepted readings, especially in those poems whose final text was established in print by the poet himself.


7.5 linear feet (5 boxes and 72 volumes)

The bulk of this collection was secured from Tennyson's grandson, Sir Charles Tennyson. It consists of 72 notebooks; 275 folders of loose papers, a great many of which were ripped by Tennyson from these notebooks or others like them; and a group of 42 folders containing papers collected by the Rawnsley family and bequeathed to Sir Charles. The notebooks and loose papers range over the entire course of his work. They contain nearly all of his major works and include many drafts and variants of Tennyson's poetry. The Rawnsley papers consist chiefly of letters and poems by Tennyson sent to the Rawnsley family.

The first two groups are parts of one natural whole, while the third is completely independent. The third group has been listed according to standard Houghton Library practice; the other two a little differently. In the first two sections it is understood that all MSS. are in the autograph of Tennyson unless otherwise noted. "H. T." or "E. T." in parentheses means that the MS. is in the hand of his son, Hallam Tennyson, or his wife, Emily (Sellwood) Tennyson; Tennyson's own initials are added when he revised or otherwise participated in the MS. The few other hands are identified by name, or marked "unidentified." Readers who can make identifications or who disagree with identifications are urged to discuss the matter with the curator.

The contents of the notebooks in the first section are listed page by page. Tennyson often inverted a notebook and began another series of writings at the other end; references to these inverted pages are preceded by an asterisk. The notebooks have been foliated in the lower left corner of the rectos throughout. The paper is briefly described in the first two sections in the hope that it may help to date notebooks and fragments, and to associate loose sheets with the notebooks from which they were torn. The phrase "no watermark" is understood to mean "no recognizable watermark"; in some cases a fragment of a watermark may be seen, but not enough to identify it.

In all three sections the poems are identified by the titles used in the standard editions. Poems not found in the standard editions are listed under the titles given them by the poet; if untitled, they are listed by first lines, even if the first line is not a part of the fragment described. All poems in the three sections are represented in two indexes: the first contains all poems bearing titles, and the second is a first-line index of the remainder. Readers are also requested to inform the curator of any unidentified fragments which should be associated with a known poem.

Biographical / Historical

Tennyson was a British poet. H. D. Rawnsley was a British author who wrote about Tennyson.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. MS Eng 952: Notebooks
  2. II. bMS Eng 952.1: Loose papers
  3. III: bMS Eng 952.2: Rawnsley papers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

54M-203 - 54M-205. Purchased with the Amy Lowell Fund; received: 1947-1954.

Processing Information

Volumes 1-72 shelved in Amy Lowell Room.

Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, Baron, 1809-1892. Alfred Tennyson papers, 1823-1892: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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