Her mother died when she was young and she was sent to a Manchester convent in 1873. She joined the Fellowship of the New Life and met Havelock Ellis in 1887 at a meeting. The couple married in November 1891.
From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional; she was openly lesbian and at the end of the honeymoon he went back to his bachelor rooms. She had several affairs with women, which her husband was aware of. Their open marriage was the central subject in Havelock Ellis's autobiography, My Life (1939).
Her first novel, Seaweed: A Cornish Idyll, was published in 1898. Ellis had a nervous breakdown in March of 1916 and died of diabetes that September. James Hinton: a Sketch, her biography of surgeon James Hinton was published posthumously in 1918.
Edith Lees & Havelock Ellis (©19)
Havelock Ellis was a physician and psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality. In November 1891, at the age of 32, and a virgin, Ellis married the English writer and proponent of women's rights, Edith Lees. Their marriage was unconventional, as Edith Lees was openly lesbian. At the end of the honeymoon, Ellis went back to his bachelor rooms in Paddington. She lived at Fellowship House. Their "open marriage" was the central subject in Ellis's autobiography, My Life.
Henry Havelock Ellis, known as Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 – 8 July 1939), was a British physician and psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He was co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality in 1897, and also published works on a variety of sexual practices and inclinations, including transgender psychology. He is credited with introducing the notions of narcissism and autoeroticism, later adopted by psychoanalysis. Like many progressive thinkers of his era, he supported eugenics and served as president of the Galton Institute.
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. From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional, as Edith Lees was openly lesbian. At the end of the honeymoon, Ellis went back to his bachelor rooms in Paddington. 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. Some knew that he suffered from impotence until the age of 60. He then discovered that he could become aroused by the sight of a woman urinating. Ellis named this "undinism". It is now more commonly called urolagnia. After his wife, Edith Lees, died, Ellis formed a relationship with Francoise Lafitte who was French. She found his desire for Undinism charming and indulged it with him.
Ellis, son of Edward Peppen Ellis and Susannah Mary Wheatley, was born in Croydon, then a small town south of London. He had four sisters, none of whom married. 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 they called at Sydney, Callao and Antwerp. After his return, Ellis attended the French and German College near Wimbledon, and afterward attended a school in Mitcham.
In April 1875, Ellis sailed on his father's ship for Australia; soon after his arrival in Sydney, he obtained a position as a master at a private school. After the discovery of his lack of training, 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 until then. He wrote, "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 physician. He studied at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, but never had a regular medical practice. His training was aided by a small legacy and also income earned from editing works in the Mermaid Series of lesser known Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. He joined The Fellowship of the New Life in 1883, meeting other social reformers Edward Carpenter and George Bernard Shaw.
The 1897 English translation of Ellis' book Sexual Inversion, co-authored with John Addington Symonds and originally published in German in 1896, was the first English medical textbook on homosexuality. (German was then considered the language of science.) It describes the sexual relations of homosexual males, including men with boys. Ellis wrote the first objective study of homosexuality, as he did not characterise it as a disease, immoral, or a crime. The work assumes that same-sex love transcended age taboos as well as gender taboos. Seven of his twenty-one case studies are of inter-generational relationships.
In 1897 a bookseller was prosecuted for stocking Ellis' book. Although the term homosexual is attributed to Ellis, he wrote in 1897, "'Homosexual' is a barbarously hybrid word, and I claim no responsibility for it." It was made up of Greek and Latin roots.
Ellis developed other important psychological concepts, such as autoerotism and narcissism, both of which were later developed further by Sigmund Freud. Ellis' influence may have reached Radclyffe Hall, who would have been about 17 years old at the time Sexual Inversion was published. She later referred to herself as a sexual invert and wrote of female "sexual inverts" in Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself and The Well of Loneliness.
Ellis studied what today are called transgender phenomena. Together with Magnus Hirschfeld, Havelock Ellis is considered a major figure in the history of sexology to establish a new category that was separate and distinct from homosexuality. Aware of Hirschfeld's studies of transvestism, but disagreeing with his terminology, in 1913 Ellis proposed the term sexo-aesthetic inversion to describe the phenomenon. In 1920 he coined the term eonism, which he derived from the name of a historical figure, Chevalier d'Eon. Ellis explained:
On the psychic side, as I view it, the Eonist is embodying, in an extreme degree, the aesthetic attitude of imitation of, and identification with, the admired object. It is normal for a man to identify himself with the woman he loves. The Eonist carries that identification too far, stimulated by a sensitive and feminine element in himself which is associated with a rather defective virile sexuality on what may be a neurotic basis.Ellis found eonism to be "a remarkably common anomaly", and "next in frequency to homosexuality among sexual deviations", and categorized it as "among the transitional or intermediate forms of sexuality." As in the Freudian tradition, Ellis postulated that a "too close attachment to the mother" may encourage eonism, but also considered that it "probably invokes some defective endocrine balance". Today, his notion of eonism has been abandoned in favor of autogynephilia, a term with a simpler definition coined by Ray Blanchard.
Ellis was a supporter of eugenics, in line with the progressive thinking of the era. 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 rise of capitalism in Europe and the strong influence of individuality within post-Reformation Protestantism gave rise to a new cultural notion: self-identity that was specific to an individual but associated with a larger group. Ulrichs began using “urning,” a term he borrowed from Plato’s Symposium, as well as “invert,” which connoted a person who possessed the soul of the other sex, to refer to people who experienced same-sex attraction in a nonjudgmental way. Kertbeny invented the word “homosexual” in 1869 to help him construct a narrative around a person defined by his or her same-sex sexual desires and actions. Beginning in the late nineteenth century in Europe and Great Britain, “sapphist,” from the Greek poet Sappho, was used occasionally to describe women who loved women, and the practice was referred to as “sapphism.” The word “lesbian,” referring to the Isle of Lesbos, the home of Sappho, was first used by sexologist Havelock Ellis in 1897. Until fifty years ago, it was common for lay people, journalists, and social scientists to use “invert” along with “homosexual.” --Bronski, Michael (2011-05-10). A Queer History of the United States (Revisioning American History) (Kindle Locations 195-198). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
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Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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