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George Ives around 1900
George (Cecil) Ives (born in Germany on 1 October 1867 - died 4 June 1950) was a Germanmarker-Englishmarker poet, writer, penal reformer and early gay rights campaigner.

Life and career

Ives was the illegitimate son of an English army officer and a Spanish baroness. He was raised by his paternal grandmother, Emma Ives. They lived between Bentworthmarker in Hampshire and the South of France.

Ives was educated at home and at Magdalene College, Cambridgemarker, where he started to amass 45 volumes of scrapbooks (between 1892 and 1949). These scrapbooks consist of clippings on topics such as murders, punishments, freaks, theories of crime and punishment, transvestism, psychology of gender, homosexuality, cricket scores, and letters he wrote to newspapers.

Ives met Oscar Wilde at the Authors' Club in London in 1892. Oscar Wilde was taken by his boyish looks and persuaded him to shave off his moustache, and once kissed him passionately in the Travellers' Club. Ives was already working for the end of the oppression of homosexuals, what he called the "Cause." He hoped that Wilde would join the "Cause", but was disappointed. In 1893, Lord Alfred Douglas, with whom he had a brief affair, introduced Ives to several Oxford poets whom Ives also tried to recruit.

By 1897, Ives created and founded the Order of Chaeronea, a secret society for homosexuals which was named after the location of the battle where the Sacred Band of Thebes was finally annihilated in 338 BC. Members included Charles Kains Jackson, Samuel Elsworth Cottam, Montague Summers, and John Gambril Nicholson. It is thought that C. R. Ashbee and A E Housman were also members. In his voluminous writings, Ives refers to Walt Whitman as "The Prophet" and used lines from Whitman's poetry in the ritual and ceremony of the Order.

The same year, Ives visited Edward Carpenter at Millthorpemarker. This marked the beginning of their friendship.

In 1914, Ives, together with Edward Carpenter, Magnus Hirschfeld, Laurence Housman and others, founded the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology. He also kept in touch with other progressive psychologists such as Havelock Ellis and Professor Cesare Lombroso.

The topics addressed by the Society in lectures and publications included: the promotion of the scientific study of sex and a more rational attitude towards sexual conduct; problems and questions connected with sexual psychology (from medical, juridical, and sociological aspects), birth control, abortion, sterilisation, venereal diseases, and all aspects of prostitution. In 1931, the organisation became the British Sexological Society. Ives was the archivist for the Society whose papers are now held by the Harry Ransom Centermarker at the University of Texasmarker at Austinmarker.

Ives also visited prisons across Europe and specialised in the study of the penal methods, particularly that of England. He lectured and published books on the topic.

As he grew older Ives developed a passion for melons , and filled his house at 196 Adelaide Road, NW3 (where he lived from 1906) with them. When the Second World War ended he refused to believe it and carried a gas mask with him until his death . He was also afraid to sleep alone and would always contrive to have at least one bed fellow.

Throughout his life, Ives had many lovers whom he called his "children". He took care of them, gave them money and bought them houses. He often lived with more than one lover at a time and some stayed with him several years.

The Ives papers

At his death in 1950, George Ives left a large archive covering his life and work between 1874 and 1949. The papers were bought in 1977 by the Harry Ransom Research Center and have been divided into four sections.

I. Correspondence, 1874-1936

This section contains invitations and letters regarding Ives' writings and lectures on prison reform, sodomy, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, and other topics. Ives' correspondents include Adolf Brand, Oscar Browning, Edward Carpenter, Havelock Ellis, Norman Gale, Augustus Hare, Ernest Jones, Cesare Lombrose, C.M. North, Reggie Turner and Edward Westermarck.

II. Works, 1897-1937

This section groups examples of Ives' published works, lectures, notes and samples of verse, both as typescripts and holographs. The topics represented include: prison reform, crime and punishment, historical views of sexuality, religion.

III. Diaries, 1886-1949

The bulk of the material consists of 122 volumes of diaries kept by Ives from the age of nineteen until about six months before his death at age eighty-two. Most of the diaries have daily entries for the period from 20 December 1886 to 16 November 1949. The view Ives provides in his diary of the life of an upper-middle class English homosexual from the end of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century is of particular interest for understanding the homosexual movement in England during this time. The content varies from descriptive impressions of social events to detailed examinations of his friends and acquaintances, analyses of the treatment of criminals, and the workings of prisons. From volume thirteen on, Ives indexed his diaries, and he often used them when he was preparing for a lecture or other writings.

IV. Miscellaneous, 1888-1949

This section includes the rules and wax seal impressions for the Order of Chaeronea, along with a library catalogue for the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, and a scrapbook of reviews and loose clippings for three of Ives' books, Eros' Throne (1900), A History of Penal Methods (1914), and Obstacles to Human Progress (1939). There is also a galley proof of George Bernard Shaw's preface to English Prisons Today (1922), prior to alterations.


He was the model for Raffles, the fictional Victorian gentleman thief, according to Lycett . Lycett says that the creator of Raffles, William Hornung, "may not have understood this sexual side of Ives' character", but that Raffles "enjoys a remarkably intimate relationship with his sidekick Bunny Manders."


  • Book of Chains (1897)
  • Eros' Throne (1900)
  • Penal Methods in the Middle Ages (1910)
  • The Treatment of Crime (1912)
  • A History of Penal Methods: Criminals, Witches, Lunatics (1914)
  • The Sexes, Structure, & "Extra-organic" Habits of certain Animals (1918)
  • The Continued Extension of the Criminal Law (1922)
  • English Prisons Today (1922) (Prefaced by G.B. Shaw)
  • Graeco-Roman View of Youth (1926)
  • Obstacles to Human Progress (1939)
  • The Plight of the Adolescent
  • The Missing Baronet (1914)



See also

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