“Give me east Suffolk for beauty and wildness, both of country and village; but when it comes to towns, west Suffolk puts us to shame.”
Tennyson’s Suffolk Scene was originally written in 1938 and published in June 1939, on the eve of the Second World War. Well-received with tellingly enthusiastic reviews, this young man’s unsentimental love of the Suffolk countryside and its people spoke to the yearning of a nation preparing for war reminding them of everything they feared might be lost.
In this new edition, Elaine Murphy, a well-known local historian, was given access to some 1,000 of Tennyson’s letters written to his wife during the war. This enabled her to provide a unique biographical introduction to the author followed by a critique for each chapter with regard to the changes over the past 80 years. In doing so, she notes the timeless quality to much of Tennyson’s Suffolk that resonates into the early twenty-first century.
Julian Tennyson was a young man, just 23yrs old, when he wrote this book, and by the time it had found popularity he had already signed up to go to war, with a fierce youthful optimism that he would survive and return to his budding literary career as poet and author. His passion for the idea if ‘England’ was his driving ideology, something born from his privileged family background, Eton and Cambridge and what he felt to be his inescapable inheritance as a great grandson of the Victorian Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
He was serving in the army when ‘Suffolk Scene’ was reprinted in 1940, 1941, 1943 and 1944 but killed in action by the time the last two editions of the 1940s were published in 1945 and 1946.