Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade: A Close Reading

In this activity, students will consider the context within which Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, first published in the Examiner in 1854, only weeks after the famous cavalry charge (25th October 1854) at Balaclava. Tennyson’s work reached the public quickly and was made popular by accompanying illustrations that were widely circulated. Although this episode in the Crimean War was only minor, and the number of casualties in reality quite small, the poem immediately captured the public imagination, where it has remained, testimony to heroic failure, self-sacrifice and duty in war. It also memorably foreshadows the blunders of World War One and the slaughter of millions of soldiers in the battlefields of Flanders.