Many years in preparation, this first volume of Lang and Shannon's edition of Tennyson's correspondence lives up to all expectations. In a comprehensive introduction the editors present not only the biographical background, with vivid portrayals of the dramatis personae, but also the story of the manuscripts, the ones that were destroyed and the many that luckily survived. The Tennyson who emerges in this volume is not a serene or Olympian figure. He is moody, impulsive, often reckless, now full of camaraderie, now plagued by anxiety or resentment, deeply attached to close friends and family and uninterested in the social scene. His early life is unenviable: we see glimpses of the embittered, drunken father, the distraught mother, the swarm of siblings in the rectory at Somersby in Lincolnshire. The happiest period is the three years at Cambridge, terminated when his father dies, and the two years thereafter, with Arthur Hallam engaged to his sister and a frequent visitor at their house. The shock of Hallam's death in 1833, coupled with the savage attack on Tennyson's poems in the Quarterly Review, is followed by depression, bouts of alcoholism, financial problems, and gradually, in the 1840s, increasing recognition of his work. The year 1850 sees the publication of In Memoriam, his long-deferred marriage at age forty to Emily Seliwood, and his acceptance, not without misgivings, of the post of Poet Laureate. The editors have garnered and selected a large number of letters to and about Tennyson which supplement his own letters, fill in lacunae in the narrative, and reveal him to us as his friends and contemporaries saw him.