Arthur Henry Hallam (1 Feb. 1811 – 15 Sep. 1833) was an English poet born in Bedford Place, London. His parents were Julia Elton of Clevedon Court, Somerset, and historian, Henry Hallam was his father.
He lived a tragically short life, a mere 22 years, and thus came to be known as the “fatal young man.” Despite this, he left an impact on the English literary society.
Hallam is best known as the subject of Alfred Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” which Tennyson wrote as a eulogy for when Arthur Hallam passed away.
The Life and Works of Arthur Hallam
Arthur Hallam attended school at Eton. He left Eton in 1827 and travelled on the continent with his family. In Italy, he was inspiration-struck by its culture and also found his love, an English lady, Anna Mildred Wintour, who was the muse of eleven of his poems.
In October 1828, Hallam went to study at Trinity College, Cambridge. This is where he became friends with Alfred Tennyson. They both joined the Cambridge Apostles, a private debating society, to deliberate over stimulating ideas ranging from religion to literature.
Hallam spent a lot of time with Tennyson and even got engaged to Tennyson’s sister, Emily in December 1830 when visiting Tennyson’s place in Somersby.
By 1831, he was writing articles for publications such as “The Englishman’s Magazine” and even offered practical help to Tennyson to publish his second volume of poetry.
How did Arthur Hallam’s die?
In August 1833, Hallam and his father set off on another European trip. In September, they arrived at Vienna with Hallam complaining of a little fever. Everyone thought rest and doses of quinine would cure it. However, on the 15th of September Arthur’s father, Henry found him dead on the settee.
Doctors pinned the reason for death as a stroke resulting from the bursting of a blood vessel near his brain. At just 22, Arthur Hallam died a tragic death.
Hallam’s father privately published a compilation of Hallam’s works, in 1834, under the title “Remains in Verse and Prose of Arthur Henry Hallam.”
In Memoriam A.H.H
Arthur’s death filled Tennyson with profound grief. Tennyson said: “He would have been known, if he had lived, as a great man but not as a great poet; he was as near perfection as mortal man could be.”.
“In Memoriam A.H.H”, Tennyson’s famous poem, is a requiem for his beloved friend, Arthur Hallam. It’s a vivid elegy expressing sorrow, grief and confusion over his friend and confidante’s death. The poem, however, closes with a celebration of his transcendence into a higher form.