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It is difficult from our twenty-first-century perspective to imagine a writer, not to mention a poet, enjoying the kind of adulation Alfred Tennyson (1809-92) experienced in the Victorian period. But whereas our modern celebrities tend to be actors, actresses, models & musicians, Victorian ‘lions’ were artists, writers & poets. The most famous poet of the Victorian period, Alfred Tennyson, attempted to extricate himself from his own celebrity by moving with his family, in 1853, to Freshwater on the Isle of Wight.

His decision transformed Freshwater into a Victorian tourist attraction & enticed some of the most admired figures of the nineteenth century there. It also created one of the most renowned celebrity circles of the age – a circle that included the most famous female photographer of the day, Julia Margaret Cameron; the most famous artist & sculptor, G. F. Watts; & two writers, Edward Lear & Lewis Carroll, who, although less well known at the time, later came to achieve a literary celebrity that is indisputable.

Freshwater people & places

You may like to read more about the village & the people who lived there, or visit our interactive map of Freshwater.


The Tennyson’s Celebrity Circle booklet

If you would like to discover more about Tennyson & his celebrity neighbours in Freshwater, you may like to read the Tennyson’s Celebrity Circle booklet.



University of PortsmouthTennyson Research CentreIsle of Wight Heritage ServiceWatts Gallery
Dimbola LodgeHEFCE

This project was carried out by the University of Portsmouth. We would like to thank the above organisations for their support. Here is a full list of credits & acknowledgements.