Havelock Ellis Additional Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111200198-Ellis_H.jpg Havelock Ellis (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Havelock Ellis—as he was commonly known—was born in a London suburb to a family of seafarers. However, apart from a trip around the world with his father at age seven, he grew up in the city and was educated in rather poor private schools. As he notes in his autobiography, My Life (1939), his real education came from extensive personal reading. At sixteen he again went voyaging with his father, but this time he remained in Australia, where he taught school for four years. During this period he began to develop a concept of values that combined the scientific and aesthetic. He also moved away from traditional religion.

Ellis returned to England and entered medical school in 1881. He was an indifferent student, sometimes just skipping exams, and failed to get licensed by the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, settling for credentials from the Society of Apothecaries. Fortunately, he rarely practiced. His years in school did provide opportunities. His literary bent was given expression in his work as editor of the Mermaid play reprint series, which provided the first popularly priced unexpurgated editions of many classical dramas. When he gave up that job in 1888, his skill at editing and publishing had produced a significant contribution to English culture. He was also active in scientific publishing; as editor of the Contemporary Science Series, he got many excellent contributors to produce what became standard texts.


(The entire section is 467 words.)


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Brome, Vincent. Havelock Ellis: Philosopher of Sex. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979. The first biography to delve into Ellis’ own sexual behavior. Draws on previously unused material made accessible to the author by Françoise Delisle, longtime companion of Ellis after his wife’s death. A highly readable account; devotes a chapter to Freud’s relations with Ellis.

Calder-Marshall, Arthur. The Sage of Sex: A Life of Havelock Ellis. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1959. Relies heavily on two sources, Ellis’ My Life and Delisle’s Friendship’s Odyssey. Disagrees with Grosskurth on several points, most notably the account of Ellis’ death, and should be read.

Collis, John Stewart. Havelock Ellis, Artist of Life: A Study of His Life and Work. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1959. A very brief biography which presents the facts of Ellis’ life but does not interpret them. Includes excerpts from Ellis’ literary work not related to his sex studies. Should only be used as a starting point in research.

Delisle, Françoise. Friendship’s Odyssey. London: Heinemann, 1946. A confusing, sentimental account of Delisle’s early life and her twenty-year relationship with Ellis. Should be read to complete an understanding of Ellis’ relationships with women.

Goldberg, Isaac. Havelock Ellis: A Biographical and Critical Survey. London: Constable and Co., 1926. The first biography of Ellis. Goldberg corresponded with Ellis for a year and a half before writing. Devotes no attention to Ellis’ scientific work and presents his life uncritically. A onesided, favorable view of Ellis. Includes a chapter on the writings of Edith Ellis.

Grosskurth, Phyllis. Havelock Ellis: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980. Carefully prepared, complete biography. Extensive research of previously unexamined material, including Ellis’ voluminous correspondence and his pocket diaries. This must be read for an objective and scholarly view of the subject.

Peterson, Houston. Havelock Ellis: Philosopher of Love. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1928. Written while Ellis was living, this work is a study of his intellectual development and does not cover his private life. The book stops at 1927 but is valuable because of the fifty-page bibliography of Ellis’ works up to 1928. It includes a list of the contents of Ellis’ Commonplace Books (1,039 entries), books, articles, introductions, prefaces, and translations. The book itself includes some of Ellis’ poetry.