About the Author
About the Author:
"Symonds was born at Bristol. His father, the senior John Addington Symonds, MD (1807-1871), was the author of an essay on Criminal Responsibility (1869), The Principles of Beauty (1857) and Sleep and Dreams (2nd ed., 1857).
Considered delicate, the younger Symonds did not take part in games while at Harrow School and showed no particular promise as a scholar. At Harrow he was exposed to the sexualized atmosphere of the English public school of his time, which he found repulsive and which he was to describe later in his memoirs: "Every boy of good looks had a female name, and was recognized either as a public prostitute or as some bigger fellow's 'bitch.' Bitch was the word in common usage to indicate a boy who yielded his person to a lover. The talk in the dormitories and the studies was incredibly obscene. Here and there one could not avoid seeing acts of onanism, mutual masturbation, or the sports of naked boys in bed together."
In January 1851 Symonds received a letter from Alfred Pretor, a friend of his, in which Pretor told him he was having an affair with their headmaster, Charles John Vaughan. Symonds was shocked and disgusted, feelings complicated by his growing awareness of his own homosexuality. He didn't mention the incident for eight years until, in 1859, he blurted out the whole story to John Conington, the Latin professor at Oxford. Conington approved of romantic relationships between men and boys, having earlier given Symonds a copy of Ionica, a collection of thinly disguised homoerotic verse by William Johnson Cory, the influential Eton Master and advocate of pederastic pedagogy. Nonetheless, Conington encouraged Symonds to tell his father, who subsequently forced Vaughan to resign. Pretor was disgusted with Symonds' part in the whole affair, and never spoke to him again.
In 1858 he proceeded to Balliol College, Oxford as a commoner but was elected to an exhibition in the following year. In spring of that same year he had fallen in love with Wilie Dyer, a Bristol choirboy three years younger than himself. They engaged in a passionate but chaste love affair that lasted one year, being broken up by Symond's father. Their friendship continued for several years afterwards." (Quote from wikipedia.org)