Havelock Ellis: Wikis


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Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis
Born 2 February 1859(1859-02-02)
Died 8 July 1939 (aged 80)
Nationality British
Ethnicity British
Spouse(s) Edith Ellis

Henry Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 - 8 July 1939) was a British sexologist, physician, and social reformer.



Early life

Ellis, son of Edward Peppen Ellis and Susannah Mary Wheatley, was born in Croydon, then a small town south of London. His father was a sea captain, his mother the daughter of a sea captain, and many other relatives lived on or near the sea. At seven years of age, his father took him on one of his voyages, during which he called at Sydney, Callao and Antwerp. After his return, Ellis went to a fairly good school, the French and German College near Wimbledon, and afterward attended a school in Mitcham.


In April 1875, Ellis left London on his father's ship for Australia, and soon after his arrival in Sydney, he obtained a position as a master at a private school. It was discovered that he had had no training for this position, and so he became a tutor for a family living a few miles from Carcoar. He spent a year there, doing a lot of reading, and then obtained a position as a master at a grammar school in Grafton. The headmaster had died and Ellis carried on the school for that year, but was too young and inexperienced to do so successfully.

At the end of the year, he returned to Sydney and, after three months' training, was given charge of two government part-time elementary schools, one at Sparkes Creek and the other at Junction Creek. He lived at the school house on Sparkes Creek for a year, which turned out to be the most eventful year of his life up to that point, as he called it afterwards. In his own words, "In Australia, I gained health of body, I attained peace of soul, my life task was revealed to me, I was able to decide on a professional vocation, I became an artist in literature . . . these five points covered the whole activity of my life in the world. Some of them I should doubtless have reached without the aid of the Australian environment, scarcely all, and most of them I could never have achieved so completely if chance had not cast me into the solitude of the Liverpool Range."


Ellis returned to England in April 1879. He had decided to take up the study of sex, and felt his first step must be to qualify as a medical man. He studied at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, but never had a regular medical practice. His training was aided by a small legacy [1] and also income earned from editing works in Mermaid Series, editions lesser known Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. [1] He joined The Fellowship of the New Life in 1883, meeting other social reformers Edward Carpenter and George Bernard Shaw.


In November 1891, at the age of 32, and still a virgin, Ellis married the English writer and proponent of women's rights, Edith Lees (none of his four sisters ever married). From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional; Edith Ellis was openly lesbian, and at the end of the honeymoon, Ellis went back to his bachelor rooms in Paddington, while she lived at Fellowship House. Their 'open marriage' was the central subject in Ellis's autobiography, My Life.


According to Ellis in My Life, his friends were much amused at his being considered an expert on sex, what with the fact that he suffered from impotence until the age of 60, when he discovered that he was able to become aroused by the sight of a woman urinating. Ellis named the interest in urination "Undinism" but it is now more commonly called urolagnia.

His book Sexual Inversion, the first English medical text book on homosexuality, co-authored with John Addington Symonds, described the sexual relations of homosexual men and boys, something that Ellis did not consider to be a disease, immoral, or a crime. The work assumes that same-sex love transcended age-taboos as well as gender-taboos, as seven of the twenty-one examples are of intergenerational relationships. A bookseller was prosecuted in 1897 for stocking Ellis' book. Although the term homosexual itself is attributed to Ellis, he wrote in 1897, “‘homosexual’ is a barbarously hybrid word, and I claim no responsibility for it,”[2] the hybridity in question being the word's mix of Greek and Latin roots. Other psychologically important concepts developed by Ellis include autoerotism and narcissism, both of which were later taken up by Sigmund Freud.


Ellis was a supporter of eugenics. He served as vice-president to the Eugenics Education Society and wrote on the subject among others in The Task of Social Hygiene.

Eventually, it seems evident, a general system, whether private or public, whereby all personal facts, biological and mental, normal and morbid, are duly and systematically registered, must become inevitable if we are to have a real guide as to those persons who are most fit, or most unfit to carry on the race.


  • The Criminal (1890)
  • The New Spirit (1890)
  • The Nationalisation of Health (1892)
  • Man and Woman: A Study of Secondary and Tertiary Sexual Characteristics (1894) (revised 1929)
  • translator: Germinal (by Zola) (1895) (reissued 1933)
  • Sexual Inversion (1897) (with J.A. Symonds)[3]
  • Affirmations (1898)
  • The Evolution of Modesty, The Phenomena of Sexual Periodicity, Auto-Erotism (1900)[4]
  • The Nineteenth Century (1900)
  • Analysis of the Sexual Impulse, Love and Pain, The Sexual Impulse in Women (1903)[5]
  • A Study of British Genius (1904)
  • Sexual Selection in Man (1905)[6]
  • Erotic Symbolism, The Mechanism of Detumescence, The Psychic State in Pregnancy (1906)[7]
  • The Soul of Spain (1908)
  • Sex in Relation to Society (1910)[8]
  • The Problem of Race-Regeneration (1911)
  • The World of Dreams (1911)
  • The Task of Social Hygiene (1912)
  • Impressions and Comments (1914-1924) (3 vols.)[9]
  • Essays in War-Time (1916)[10]
  • The Philosophy of Conflict (1919)
  • On Life and Sex: Essays of Love and Virtue (1921)
  • Kanga Creek: An Australian Idyll (1922)[11]
  • Little Essays of Love and Virtue (1922)
  • The Dance of Life (1923)[12]
  • Sonnets, with Folk Songs from the Spanish (1925)
  • Eonism and Other Supplementary Studies (1928)
  • The Art of Life (1929) (selected and arranged by Mrs. S. Herbert)
  • More Essays of Love and Virtue (1931)
  • ed.: James Hinton: Life in Nature (1931)
  • Views and Reviews (1932)[13]
  • Psychology of Sex (1933)
  • ed.: Imaginary Conversations and Poems: A Selection, by Walter Savage Landor (1933)
  • Chapman (1934)
  • My Confessional (1934)
  • Questions of Our Day (1934)
  • From Rousseau to Proust (1935)
  • Selected Essays (1936)
  • Poems (1937) (selected by John Gawsworth; pseudonym of T. Fytton Armstrong)
  • Love and Marriage (1938) (with others)
  • My Life (1939)
  • Sex Compatibility in Marriage (1939)
  • From Marlowe to Shaw (1950) (ed. by J. Gawsworth)
  • The Genius of Europe (1950)
  • Sex and Marriage (1951) (ed. by J. Gawsworth)
  • The Unpublished Letters of Havelock Ellis to Joseph Ishill (1954)


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Havelock Ellis (February 2, 1859 – July 8, 1939) was a British doctor, sexual psychologist and social reformer.



  • To be a leader of men one must turn one's back on men.
    • Introduction to Huysman's A Rebours (Against the Grain) (1884)
  • The omnipresent process of sex, as it is woven into the whole texture of our man's or woman's body, is the pattern of all the process of our life.
    • The New Spirit (1890)
  • " 'Homosexual' is a barbarously hybrid word, and I claim no responsibility for it.
    • Studies in Psychology (1897)
  • Every artist writes his own autobiography.
    • The New Spirit
  • If men and women are to understand each other, to enter into each other's nature with mutual sympathy, and to become capable of genuine comradeship, the foundation must be laid in youth.
    • The Task of Social Hygiene, ch. 1 (1912)
  • There has never been any country at every moment so virtuous and so wise that it has not sometimes needed to be saved from itself.
    • The Task of Social Hygiene, ch. 10
  • Had there been a lunatic asylum in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ would infallibly have been shut up in it at the outset of his public career. That interview with Satan on the pinnacle of the Temple would alone have damned him, and everything that happened after could but have confirmed the diagnosis.
    • Impressions and Comments, series 3

Impressions and Comments (1914)

  • The text of the Bible is but a feeble symbol of the Revelation held in the text of Men and Women.
  • The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
  • It is curious how there seems to be an instinctive disgust in Man for his nearest ancestors and relations. If only Darwin could conscientiously have traced man back to the Elephant or the Lion or the Antelope, how much ridicule and prejudice would have been spared to the doctrine of Evolution.

Little Essays of Love and Virtue (1922)

  • The family only represents one aspect, however important an aspect, of a human being's functions and activities...A life is beautiful and ideal, or the reverse, only when we have taken into our consideration the social as well as the family relationship.
    • Ch. 1
  • One can know nothing of giving aught that is worthy to give unless one also knows how to take.
    • Ch. 1
  • The byproduct is sometimes more valuable than the product.
    • Ch. 3
  • All civilization has from time to time become a thin crust over a volcano of revolution.
    • Ch. 7
  • The greatest task before civilization at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men.
    • Ch. 7

The Dance of Life (1923)

  • The art of dancing stands at the source of all the arts that express themselves first in the human person. The art of building, or architecture, is the beginning of all the arts that lie outside the person; and in the end they unite.
    • Ch. 2
  • Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself.
    • Ch. 2
  • The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.
    • Ch. 3
  • Thinking in its lower grades is comparable to paper money, and in its higher forms it is a kind of poetry.
    • Ch. 3
  • In philosophy, it is not the attainment of the goal that matters, it is the things that are met with by the way.
    • Ch. 3
  • The mathematician has reached the highest rung on the ladder of human thought.
    • Ch. 3
  • A man must not swallow more beliefs than he can digest.
    • Ch. 5
  • The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.
    • Ch. 5
  • What we call "morals" is simply blind obedience to words of command.
    • Ch. 6
  • The sun and the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago...had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.
    • Ch. 7


  • The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.
  • Dreams are real while they last. Can we say more of life?

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