'The Lady of Shalott'

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s (1809 – 1892) love of Arthurian legends found expression in one of his early poems, ‘The Lady of Shalott’ (1833). Isolated in a tower, the Lady’s only ‘contact’ with the outside world is via a mirror. Although she is ‘half sick of shadows’, a curse will come upon her if she ventures to look down at Camelot. The sudden appearance of ‘bold Sir Lancelot’ distracts her from her labours, leading to her doom. Tennyson’s poem has been the subject of much critical debate, as it lends itself to a range of possible interpretations: an allegory exploring the role of the artist, for instance, or an examination of the relationship between art and reality. It has also inspired many famous works of art.


Creator:
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Published:
1833
Forms:
Poem
Genre:
Victorian Literature
Literary period:
Victorian

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An introduction to ‘The Lady of Shalott’

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Theme: 
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An Arthurian legend inspired one of Tennyson's most famous poems. Dr Stephanie Forward considers how 'The Lady of Shalott' reflects contemporary questions of gender and creativity, and provided the subject for works by artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt.

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