Edith Ellis

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For the American actress and playwright, see Edith Ellis (playwright).
Edith Ellis
Edith Ellis 1914.jpg
Born Edith Mary Oldham Ellis
Manchester, England
Died September 1916
Paddington, London, England
Spouse Havelock Ellis

Edith Mary Oldham Ellis (née Lees; 1861, Manchester – 1916, Paddington, London) was an English writer and women's rights activist. She was married to the early sexologist Havelock Ellis.


Edith Lees & Havelock Ellis

Her mother died when she was young and she was sent to a Manchester convent in 1873. She joined the Fellowship of the New Life and met Havelock Ellis in 1887 at a meeting.[1] The couple married in November 1891.

From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional; she was openly lesbian and at the end of the honeymoon he went back to his bachelor rooms. She had several affairs with women, which her husband was aware of.[2] Their open marriage was the central subject in Havelock Ellis's autobiography, My Life (1939).

Lily, 1902

Her first novel, Seaweed: A Cornish Idyll, was published in 1898.[3] During this period Edith began a relationship with Lily, an artist from Ireland who lived in St. Ives. Edith was devastated when Lily died from Bright's Disease in June 1903.[4]

Ellis had a nervous breakdown in March 1916 and died of diabetes that September. James Hinton: a Sketch, her biography of surgeon James Hinton was published posthumously in 1918.[5]


  • Seaweed: A Cornish Idyll (1898)
  • My Cornish Neighbours (1906)
  • Kit's Woman (U.S. title: Steve's Woman) (1907)
  • The Subjection of Kezia (1908)
  • Attainment (1909)
  • Three Modern Seers (1910)
  • The Imperishable Wing (1911)
  • The Lover's Calendar: An Anthology (ed) (1912)
  • Love-Acre (1914)
  • Love in Danger (1915)
  • James Hinton: A Sketch (1918)
  • The New Horizon in Love and Life (1921)


  1. ^ Doan, Laura; Garrity, Jane (2006). Sapphic Modernities: Sexuality, Women, and National Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 184. ISBN 1-4039-6498-X. 
  2. ^ Pettis, Ruth. "Ellis, Havelock". Glbtq.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  3. ^ "Women in the Literary Marketplace". Rmc.library.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  4. ^ "Havelock Ellis". Retrieved 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "James Hinton; a sketch". Archive.org. Retrieved 2015-09-19. 

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