University of Texas at Austin

George Cecil Ives:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Ives, George Cecil, 1867-1950
Title: George Cecil Ives Papers 1874-1949
Dates: 1874-1949
Extent: 5 boxes and 79 volumes (11 linear ft)
Abstract: The papers consist of 122 volumes of diaries in addition to published works, lectures, and notes. Correspondence includes letters regarding Ives' writings and lectures on prison reform, sodomy, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, and other topics. Additional materials relating to secret societies and the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology are also present.
Language: English.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchase, 1977
Processed by Deborah Shelby, 1993

Harry Ransom Center University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

George Cecil Ives was born on October 1, 1867. He was raised by his father's mother, Emma Ives, and referred to her as his mother. Ives and his grandmother primarily resided in England at Bentworth Hall, or in the South of France. Ives was educated at home and at Magdalene College, Cambridge.
In 1892, Ives met Oscar Wilde at the Authors' Club in London. By this time Ives had accepted his homosexuality and was working to promote the end of the oppression of homosexuals, what he called the "Cause." Ives hoped that Wilde would join the "Cause" but Wilde did not have the same compassion towards this movement that Ives did. Lord Alfred Douglas met Ives in 1893 and introduced him to several Oxford poets, whom Ives encouraged to join the "Cause."
By 1897, Ives understood that the "Cause" would not be accepted openly in society and must therefore have a means of underground communication. Thus he created and founded the Order of Chaeronea, a secret society for homosexuals. The name, Order of Chaeronea, was inspired by the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC when the 300 members of the Sacred Band of Thebes (composed entirely of friends and lovers) were slaughtered by the army of Philip of Macedonia. Ives and other members dated letters and other materials based on this date, so that 1899 would be written as C2237. An elaborate system of rituals, ceremonies, a service of initiation, seals, codes, and passwords were used by the members. The Secret Society became a worldwide organization and Ives took advantage of every opportunity to spread the word about the "Cause."
The developing study of sex psychology was of great interest to Ives and put him in touch with many of the writers in this field such as Magnus Hirschfeld, Havelock Ellis, Professor Lombroso, and Edward Carpenter. The British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology was founded in 1914 by Carpenter, Hirschfeld, Ives, Laurence Housman, and others. Some of the topics addressed in lecture and publication form by the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology were: 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, sterilization, veneral diseases, and all aspects of prostitution. In 1931, it was resolved to change the name of the organization to the British Sexological Society.
For the BSS and other interested groups, Ives gave lectures and published books entitled Graeco-Roman View of Youth (1926), and The Plight of the Adolescent.
Ives was also noted for his scholarship of penal methods, having traveled around visiting prisions and studying the penal methods of various European countries, particularly England. He lectured to several groups about his findings and also published books on the topic. Among these were Penal Methods in the Middle Ages (1910), A History of Penal Methods (1914), The Continued Extension of the Criminal Law (1922). Other published works by Ives include Book of Chains (1897), though he claimed no authorship for the publication, and another book of verse entitled Eros' Throne (1900).
George Ives died June 4, 1950.

Scope and Contents

The George Ives papers range in date from 1874 to 1949 and are divided into four series: I. Correspondence, 1874-1936; II. Works, 1897-1937; III. Diaries, 1886-1949; and IV. Miscellaneous, 1888-1949.
The correspondence contains invitations to dinners, parties, and cricket matches, as well as letters regarding Ives' writings and lectures on prison reform, sodomy, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, and other topics. There are also several letters thanking Ives for gifts of books and various lectures given. Among his correspondents were Adolf Brand, Oscar Browning, Edward Carpenter, Havelock Ellis, Norman Gale, Augustus Hare, Ernest Jones, Cesare Lombrose, C. M. North, Reggie Turner, Edward Westermarck, and others.
There are several examples of Ives' published works, lectures, and notes, 1897-1926. Some of the topics represented are: prison reform, crime and punishment, historical views of sexuality, religion, and samples of his verse writing. Typescripts and holograph examples are both present in this series.
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 December 20, 1886 to November 16, 1949. Ives often used the battle of Chaeronea when dating his diary entries, adding 338 years to the actual date. 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, to analyses of the treatment of criminals and the workings of prisons. From volume thirteen on, Ives indexed his diaries and often used them when he was preparing for a lecture or other writings.
Miscellaneous materials include the rules and wax seal impressions for the Secret Society, along with a library catalog for the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, and a scrapbook of reviews and loose clippings for three of Ives books, Ero's Throne (1900), A History of Penal Methods (1914), and Obstacles to Human Progress (1939). There is also a galley proof of G. B. Shaw's preface to English Prisons (1922), prior to alterations.
While Ives amassed 45 volumes of scrapbooks, 1892-1949, they do not form part of this collection. 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. For extracts of these scrapbooks, which were edited by Paul Sieveking and published by Jay Landesman in 1981, see Man Bites Man.
The British Sexological Society Collection at the Ransom Center also contains a large amount of Ives material. He was involved from the onset of the British Sexological Society in several ways, one of which was preserving the papers and records for the organization. There are materials to and from him throughout the collection. A large portion of the Ives material is in the Miscellaneous series, including nine boxes of his notebooks, lectures, and works. A substantial number of letters to Ives from Lawrence Housman (1916-1948), correspondence from Ives' family members, and others, are also part of the Miscellaneous Series. See the manuscript card catalog for further information.

Series Descriptions

Related Material

Other Ives materials include books, scrapbooks (see Man Bites Man), the Vertical File, and materials in the British Sexological Society, Edward Carpenter, and Oscar Wilde manuscript collections.

Index Terms


Brand, Adolf, 1874-
Browning, Oscar, 1837-1923
Carpenter, Edward, 1844-1929
Cazalett, William Marshall, 1865-1932
Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939
Evans, Caroline A.
Gale, Norman, 1862-1942
Hare, Augustus J. C. (Augustus John Cuthbert), 1834-1903
Jones, Ernest, 1879-1958
Lacon, Edmund Beecroft Francis Heathcote, Sir, 1878-1911
Lombroso, Cesare, 1835-1909
Morrison, William Douglas, 1853-1943
Moss, Samuel, 1858-1918
North, Charlotte Maria, Lady, 1831-1909
Prescott, E. Livingston
Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
Turner, Reggie, 1869?-1938
Westermark, Edward, 1862-1939


British Sexological Society
British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology
Crime and Criminals--Great Britain
Douglas, Alfred Bruce, Lord, 1870-1945
Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939
Gay Liberation Movement--Great Britain
Gay Liberation Movement--Great Britain--History
Homosexuality--Personal narratives
Homosexuals--Great Britain--Social Conditions
Order of Chaeronea
Prison Reform--Great Britain
Prisons--Great Britain
Secret Society of Homosexuals
Sex Crimes--Great Britain
Sex (psychology)
Wilde, Oscar, 1845-1900

Document Types

Galley proofs

George Cecil Ives Papers--Container List