Published in 1893, the year after Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s death, this book features a selection of Julia Margaret Cameron’s iconic photographic portraits of the poet and his circle of friends. A friend and neighbour of Tennyson’s, Cameron took photographs of the poet several times across a decade. Perhaps Cameron’s best-known Tennyson portrait is ‘The Dirty Monk’, where he appears in profile wrapped in a cloak. Cameron and Tennyson’s working relationship extended in 1874 when Cameron produced photographic illustrations to Tennyson’s Arthurian poem Idylls of the King.
Accompanying the photographs, ‘Reminiscences’ reflects on the work and life of both Cameron and Tennyson. It was written by Anne Thackeray Ritchie, daughter of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.
Photography was still in its infancy when in 1863 Cameron, aged 48, began to explore the form. She received no formal training, although she was able to exchange ideas within her vibrant circle of friends, many of whom were writers and artists. Primarily photographing friends and family, Cameron experimented with photography to produce soft-focus atmospheric photographs that often emanate an otherworldly, allusive quality. She strove to capture the feelings and nature of her sitters, and at times focussed on distilling particular qualities such as beauty and genius.