chapter
Ellis, Havelock (1859–1939)
Pages 27

By its final version, the controversial volume began with definitions, conceiving “sexual inversion” (“sexual instinct turned by inborn constitutional abnormality toward persons of the same sex,” Ellis, Vol. 1, Part 4.1) as a narrower term than “homosexuality” (“which includes all sexual attractions between persons of the same sex [for example, prison inmates]…phenomenon of wide occurrence among all human races and among most of the higher animals”). By means of these distinctions, not only did Ellis introduce the term homosexuality to the English public (coined by fellow Victorian Richard Burton), he also made it possible to strike a middle path between Krafft-Ebing, who stressed the inborn nature of inversion, and Schrenk-Notzing, who argued that it was largely acquired (by suggestion) and amenable to treatment. As his title suggests, Ellis wished to stress the congenital elements of what he called “true sexual inversion.” To this end, he offered characteristically extensive examples of both homosexuality and inversion, ranging over various groups of people (Albanians, Greeks, Eskimo), over various times (ancient Rome in one instance, modern prisons in another) and “among men of exceptional intellect” (Muret, Michelangelo, Whitman, Verlaine). He then examined leading theories of his day, followed by actual case histories for which he supplied limited analysis and from which he drew limited conclusions.