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 Bentworth in Hampshire and the South of France.
Ives was educated at home and at Magdalene College, Cambridge, 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.
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 at the University of Texas at Austin.
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