The son of a British ship's captain, Havelock Ellis spent much of his childhood in the Pacific. He became a teacher in New South Wales, then studied medicine in London, eventually devoting himself to research and writing in England. Ellis's works fall under many heads: science, art, travel, poetry, and essays. He has achieved distinction in many different fields. His most important work was Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1898), which, when first published in England, was the subject of legal battles as to its "obscenity." However, the book helped to change public attitudes toward sex and greatly contributed to the study of sexual problems. Ellis interpreted his data from a biological rather than a clinical viewpoint. Sigmund Freud, who drew from his material, regarded Ellis's conclusions as "happy anticipations of our own deductions." Ellis's most popular philosophical work is The Dance of Life (1923), a survey of modern civilization giving the author's own outlook on life. Many of his earlier books are out of print.