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Often regarded as trivial and disposable, printed ephemera, such as tickets, playbills and handbills, was essential in the development of eighteenth-century culture. In this original study, richly illustrated with examples from across the period, Gillian Russell examines the emergence of the cultural category of printed ephemera, its relationship with forms of sociability, the history of the book, and ideas of what constituted the boundaries of literature and literary value. Russell explores the role of contemporary collectors such as Sarah Sophia Banks in preserving such material, arguing for 'ephemerology' as a distinctive strand of popular antiquarianism. Multi-disciplinary in scope, The Ephemeral Eighteenth Century reveals new perspectives on the history of theatre, the fiction of Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, and on the history of bibliography, as well as highlighting the continuing relevance of the concept of ephemerality to how we connect through social media today.