Obit: G.B. Tennyson

One of my UCLA English professors has died in a house fire. I learned this while searching for information on Owen Barfield, whose Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry I’m currently rereading.

I found the news over at David Lavery’s Barfield website. Tennyson was a specialist in Victorian literature and a pioneer in Barfield studies; and at the time I was his student, had recently completed a documentary on Barfield (“Owen Barfield: Man and Meaning”), part of which we watched in class. That was 1996 and Barfield was 98 years old.

Strangely, there’s not a word of Tennyson’s passing on the UCLA English department’s website, and I couldn’t find anything about it anywhere else online, either. I have good memories of his C.S. Lewis class: his expertise on the subject of Lewis’s life and writings, primarily, but also the “magic wand” he would bring to class—a clear tube filled with glitter and a clear, semi-viscous liquid. I think he used its powers mainly to get us to be quiet at the beginning of class—a feat accomplished by tapping it repeatedly on the table. The final exam was also memorable: we were to complete a narrative/analytical essay on Lewis by simply writing single words into blank spaces. E.g., “Lewis was born in the year ____.”

Lavery has written up a nice bio of Tennyson. R.I.P.


13 Responses to “Obit: G.B. Tennyson”

  1. Jane Hipolito Says:

    You can find an obituary for Professor Tennyson on the website of the Owen Barfield Society —

  2. Curly Says:

    Thanks, Jane: the full address is

    Tennyson was an outstanding scholar and great teacher.

  3. Bettie Noble Says:

    I am trying to get the name and address of an heir to G. B. Tennyson to forward on royalty information on a book we have been publishing authored by Professor Tennyson.

    Do you have any information that would be helpful to me?

    Bettie Noble

    • w.c.watt Says:

      If you’ll e-mail me with your affiliation and e-mail address I’ll convey this information to one of G.B.Tennyson’s heirs.

  4. Curly Says:

    No, but you might try the webmaster at the above link (Barfield Society).

  5. Carol Johnstone Says:


    I am Professor Tennyson’s neice. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is the first I’ve learned of his death. Gad. I was hoping to visit him on an upcoming trip to Los Angeles. He has two daughter, but I don’t know where they live. Have you found anything out?

    Carol Johnstone

  6. Curly Says:

    Sorry for the delay; I know nothing. Try the Barfield Society or the UCLA English Department, would be my recommendations. Good luck.

  7. Evelyn Sawhill Says:

    I am so sad and sorry to hear of Professor Tennyson’s death. I was one of his graduate students at UCLA during the mid-seventies, and have warm memories of his continuous wit, engaging attitude, and enthusiastic scholarship. He is missed; I will remember him with much affection.

  8. Terry Says:

    I was a student of Dr. Tennyson’s in an NEH Summer Seminar in the late 70s. Wonderful opportunity! Dr. Tennyson was a fine teacher, filled with knowledge and enthusiasm and wit. During the ensuing years, he was kind enough to write me several recommendations, for grants and so on. He always complied, no matter how self-consciously I asked. Of course I always thanked him, but now I only wish I had thanked this man more. Dr. Tennyson seems to me now an example of the very best and fullest of what it means to be a professor. I’m deeply saddened to learn of his death as well as deeply privileged all over again to have once been his student and colleague.

    Terry Caesar

  9. w.c.watt Says:

    I can furnish the name and address of G.B.Tennyson’s younger daughter, who is certainly one of his two heirs.

    I was his lifelong friend and one of his pall-bearers.

  10. Curly Says:

    Thank you, Mr. Watt. If I get any requests here I will let you know.

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