By Charlotte Boyce;P?raic Finnerty;Anne-Marie Millim
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Additional resources for Victorian Celebrity Culture and Tennyson’s Circle
Some people once told me of meeting a mysterious figure in a cloak coming out of a deep glade, passing straight on, looking neither to the right nor the left. ‘It was either a ghost or it was Mr. 90 This is certainly the case in an article written by another of Tennyson’s friends, Annie Fields (wife of the American publisher James T. Fields). Her vivid recollection of her first visit to Farringford blurs the boundary between real and imagined worlds, and imbues the poet’s home with a magical ambiance.
Tennyson as a poet. This lady, without his knowledge, either copied portions, or attempted to reproduce parts of the letter from memory (I suspect the latter), and Stedman was thunderstruck at seeing what purported to be an extract from my letter in print about two months ago. He gave me no information of it – as he ought to have done – hoping that it might not be further copied, and that I might thus be spared a great vexation. I blame him for this, as I should have written instantly to Mr. 104 What this intriguing tale of broken confidences, misappropriated memoirs and unauthorised publication serves to highlight is the growing fascination with ‘celebrity’ in nineteenth-century culture and the indispensability of periodicals to that growth.
What is their significance to the poet? Which titles fill his bookshelves? What is hidden behind the screen in Gardner’s image? From whom is the opened letter on the desk in Kitton’s? These missing data are attributable in part to the limitations of verisimilar representation; they are also, however, structurally essential to the ‘At Home with’ genre. As Salmon suggests, the frequently deployed ‘topos of the “secret”’ guarantees these articles’ perpetuation, ‘since it is through the rhetorical imperative of secrecy that the apparently opposing rhetorical imperative of revelation is sustained’.