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Henry Havelock Ellis
(February 2, 1859 - July 8, 1939) U.K.

Havelock Ellis

Essayist and psychologist


Ellis was the son of a sea-captain, and was largely raides by his mother, though as a child he twice sailed round the world on his father's ship. In 1875 he again traveled on his father's ship carrying emigrants to Australia, where he remained for four years teaching.

During his lonely final posting at Sparkes Creek near Scone in the New South Wales bush, he had some sort of adolescent crisis and determined to devote his life to the study of sex. To this end he undertook medical training in London. His first book attracted the attention of John Addington Symonds, a homosexual historian and man of letter. Ellis seemed to him an appropriate collaborator. They agreed to undertake a book, but Symonds died in 1893 before completing the work.

Havelock EllisEllis went on to write the book, which was published under both their names as Sexual Inversions. Although Ellis was himself heterosexual, he took a sympatetic and tolerant stance, and over the next half-century many homosexuals came to an understanding and acceptance of themselves as a result of reading Ellis' books. Ellis's scientific works, notoriously graphic in their descriptions, became underground classics at boys' schools across Europe. He married to lesbian Edith Lees.

Ellis is chiefly known as the author of many works on the psychology of sex, including The New Spirit (1890), Sexual Inversion (1897), Studies in the Psychology of Sex (7 volumes, 1898 - 1928).

He had many followers, although the scientific accuracy of his investigations has been questioned, and he had a considerable and liberating influence. He was also a literal critic and essayist. He wrote an autobiographical book, My Life (1939).


Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii

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