1859-02-02

HAVELOCK ELLIS, British psychologist and sexologist, born (d. 1913); Ellis’s monumental seven-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897-1928) was not only of the greatest importance in changing Western attitude toward sex, but has influenced almost all writers ever since. Given the nature of his major interest, he was more than entitled to a full-fledged fetish all his own.

From the beginning, his 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 considering the fact that he suffered from impotence until the age of sixty, 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.

Ellis’s 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 transcends age as well as gender taboos, as seven of the twenty one examples are of inter-generational relationships. A bookseller was prosecuted in 1897 for stocking it. Although the term itself is attributed to Ellis, he writes in 1897, “‘Homosexual’ is a barbarously hybrid word, and I claim no responsibility for it.” Other psychologically important concepts developed by Ellis include autoeroticism and narcissism, both of which were later taken on by Sigmund Freud.