Author of a popular renaissance history and an influential Michelangelo biography; early gay studies writer. Symonds was the son of John Addington Symonds, M.D., (1807-1871) a socially prominent British physician and Harriet Sykes (1808/9-1844). After his mother's death he was raised by a strict aunt. His father instilled in him a love for Greek and Italian art, who himself studied these humanities two hours daily. Symonds entered the Harrow School in 1854, where his homosexual awakening led to a relationship with a fellow student, Willie Dyer, in 1858.