The Moxon Tennyson Published

The Moxon Tennyson is a collection of poetry from Alfred Lord Tennyson illustrated by the Pre-Raphaelite artists Dante Gabriel Rosetti, John Millais, and William Holman Hunt (all of whom were greatly influenced by Tennyson’s work), and the Victorian artists Thomas Creswick, J.C. Horsley, William Mulready and Clarkson Stanfield

Due to the importance of illustration in the book’s popularity, it is associated with the publisher (Edward Moxon) and referred to as the Moxon Tennyson. The Moxon Tennyson is considered to have launched the golden age of wood-engraved illustration. Wood-engraved illustration was popular from the 1960s to the 1890s when photographic methods of illustrations gained traction. The illustrations in the Moxon Tennyson were woodblocks created by the Daziel brothers after the hand-drawn illustrations of mostly Pre-Raphaelite artists. There are a total of fifty-five illustrations in the Moxon, thirty of which were made by John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The remaining twenty-five illustrations were done by academic artists such as Maclise and Landseer

The genre this was published in was considered victorian poetry. It was filled with illustrations that were heavily influenced by medieval literature and culture. While these illustrations were wood carved illustrations, they were often being related to fine art rather than "the mass art of wood engraving." These influences caused readers to develop a new approach to illustrations as a whole.

The Moxon Tennyson was initially not well-received nor popular upon publication, the former due to the dissonance of the varying art-styles contained in the book, and the latter due to its high market price. Tennyson himself criticized the illustrations (particularly those by the Pre-Raphaelite artists) for not being faithful to his poetry. The manner in which the Moxon’s illustrators diverged from Tennyson’s verse, however, was greatly influential in the long-run; it set the groundwork for illustrations to be appreciated in and of themselves -- not merely as works subordinate to the texts to which they were set.

Curated by Nicole Bernard, Zeinab Fakih, and Justin Hovey.

Kooistra, Lorraine Janzen. “The Moxon Tennyson as Textual Event: 1857, Wood Engraving, and Visual Culture.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. 17 September 2020.

Associated Place(s)