I took Helen and Mike on a literature tour on Thursday. We visited the Tennyson Archive. He is the 9th most quoted poet in the English Language. He looks like the perfect Victorian with his frock coats, beard and pipe. He was a radical moderniser. He illustrated his work with photographs and recorded in the 1880s a number of his poems. I swear if you listen hard enough through the crackles on the wax cylinders you can hear his Lincolnshire accent.

At the archive we were able to view the “Butcher’s Book” draft of the poem which made his name “In Memoriam” in his own handwriting. A request from Prince Albert for his autograph, a letter of condolence from Queen Victoria on the death of his son and a wonderful hand illustrated letter from Edward Lear to his wife. We were also able to see illustrations for his published works by little known names such as Millais. Finally we could see his scribbled change from “jaws of death” to “valley of death” in the working script for “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” All for free and the enthusiasm and attention to detail, along with the detailed knowledge of Tennyson himself, of the staff who showed us round was awesome. I got more emotionally excited and over-wrought than my guests and had to come back to earth a bit!!!

Made me proud that this complex and interesting man came from our great county and led us to stroll up the hill to salute him and his dog Karenina in their statue form at Cathedral Green.