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Penrose Tennyson


Frederick Penrose Tennyson was a British film director whose promising career was tragically cut short when he was killed in a plane crash during the Second World War.

He gained experience as an assistant director to the Alfred Hitchcock in several of his films in Britain during the 1930's and directed three films before his untimely death.

Tennyson was married to actress Nova Pilbeam from 1939.

After completing filming on Convoy (1940), he joined the Royal Navy's instructional film unit and was killed in a plane crash whilst returning from Scapa Flow on the evening of 7th June 1941.[1] Before he boarded the plane, he had sent Nova a telegram which read, "Will be with you tomorrow evening - cheers." His younger brother, Julian, was later killed in Burma in March 1945.

Tennyson left £1,250 in his will to his widow.[2]

The following tribute from Michael Balcon was published in July 1945:

Thy leaf has perished in the green,
And while we breathe beneath the sun,
The world which credits what is done
Is cold to all that might have been.


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  • born Frederick Penrose Tennyson 26/Aug/1912[3]
  • son of barrister Charles Bruce Locker Tennyson (b. 1879)[4] and Ivy Gladys Pretious (b. ~1880)[5], who married in 1909
  • married 19/Oct/1939 to Nova Margery Pilbeam[6]
  • died 07/Jul/1941
  • buried at Douglas Bank Cemetery, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland[7]
  • probate granted 18/Jun/1942 to parents Charles Tennyson and Ivy Gladys Tennyson, effects worth £2,168 16s. 1d.

Research Documents



Notes & References

  1. Tennyson had enrolled with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in December 1936.
  2. See, for example, Portsmouth Evening News and Yorkshire Evening Post (24/Jun/1942).
  3. Birth registered Q3 1912 Chelsea.
  4. Son of Lionel and Eleanor B.M. Tennyson. Died 1977 aged 97.
  5. Daughter of Susie Pretious. Died 1958.
  6. Marriage registered Q4 1939 Westminster.
  7. Find a Grave