by Betsy Gomez
Barney Rosset’s Grove Press published some of the best known names in modern literature: Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, William Burroughs, and more. Throughout his tenure as a publisher and filmmaker, Rosset was a crusader against obscenity laws. Rosset recently passed away at the age of 90.
In 1951, Grove Press was a tiny company. Under Rosset’s guidance, Grove became one of the foremost publishers of American literature. Many of Grove’s authors were turned down by other houses for being too experimental and controversial. When Rosset published Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, obscenity laws in the United States actually made it illegal to do so. In publishing Miller’s book and DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Rosset worked to overturn these laws. Rosset took on hundreds of lawsuits in defense of the books he published, eventually overthrowing many of the laws that violated the creators’ right to free expression.
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Betsy Gomez is the Web Editor for CBLDF.