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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Charles Tennyson Turner (1808–1879)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
THE POETIC gift in the Tennyson family was not confined to the laureate, although his accomplishment and fame overshadow his brothers. But both Frederick and Charles Tennyson were verse-writers of no mean power; and of Charles—who in 1835 assumed the name of Turner upon inheriting the estate of a great-uncle—it may be said that he was one of the most attractive and genuine of the minor Victorian lyric singers. His sonnets have a delicacy of art, a loveliness of expression, and a depth of feeling, which give them distinction and charm. They are quiet, reflective, unobtrusive; but their attraction is strong and lasting. This poet’s range was not wide, but his note was very true and sweet.  1
  Charles Tennyson Turner was the son of the Rev. George Clayton Tennyson, rector of Somersby and Enderby in Lincolnshire, and was born in the former village on July 4th, 1808; being a year the elder of Alfred. Charles was educated at Louth Grammar School, and with Alfred at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he got his degree in 1832. As a Trinity student he did fine work in the classics, and won the Bell Scholarship. In 1835 he was appointed Vicar of Grasby, and spent most of his life in the faithful discharge of the duties of a country parish, much beloved by his people. He married in 1836 Louisa Sellwood, the younger sister of Lady Tennyson.  2
  Charles’s initial appearance as a poet was with Alfred in the anonymous volume, now so much coveted, ‘Poems by Two Brothers’; which was published in 1827, and drew the attention of the public to a new talent in English verse. Charles’s share in the volume was but modest. His independent publication began three years later with the ‘Sonnets and Fugitive Pieces’; and further volumes were ‘Sonnets’ (1864), ‘Small Tableaux’ (1868), ‘Sonnets, Lyrics, and Translations’ (1873), ‘Collected Sonnets, Old and New’ (1880),—the last a posthumous publication. The poet’s death occurred at Cheltenham, April 25th, 1879.  3
  The ethical is strongly marked in Charles Tennyson Turner’s verse. His interest in spiritual themes rarely gave his poems the didactic flavor too commonly found in religious poetry. This was because he was naturally an artist; and also because he was full of feeling, richly human. He chose for the most part simple homely themes suggested by his environment, and illuminated them with tender imagination. As to poetic forms, the sonnet, “poising one bright thought,” was with him the favorite mold into which to pour his thought and emotion. Its lyric requirements and demands suited his gift, and he gained mastery in it. Few sonneteers excel him for sentiment choicely and musically expressed. In such poems as ‘Letty’s Globe’ and ‘The Mummy,’ he touches the heart and delights the sense of beauty. The former poem awoke the enthusiasm of Swinburne, who declared it to be unsurpassed among English child poems. At times too he was stimulated by a motif like that in ‘The Lion’s Skeleton’ into a noble largeness of conception and utterance. Charles Tennyson Turner’s sweet, pure pastoral melody must long afford pleasure and find appreciation.  4
 
 
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