The Mermaids series is best known for making affordable paperback editions of Renaissance plays. Under Ellis, debates on obscenity and censorship embroiled the series. Despite its scandals, Mermaids was pivotal to constructing “classic,” canonical English Literature in the twentieth century. This talk returns to the life and afterlife of Ellis’ Mermaids series. I ask: what impact did the sexologists’ have on publishing, reading, and teaching Renaissance literature? Do sexological constructions of gender and sexuality live on in Renaissance studies? And, what can the history of Mermaids tell us about book-banning and “obscenity” today?

Featured Image: Photograph from Colonel Thomas W.E. Christmas collection of Korean War military photographs, 1949-1952 (Ms. Coll. 1518)