Grove Press is an American publishing imprint that was founded in
1947. Imprints include: Black Cat, Evergreen, Venus Library, and
Barney Rosset purchased the company in 1951 and turned it into
an alternative book press in the United States. He partnered with
Richard Seaver to bring French literature to the United States. The
Atlantic Monthly Press, under the aegis of its publisher, Morgan
Entrekin, merged with
Grove Press in 1991. Grove later became an
imprint of the publisher Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
1 Early years
2 Literary avant-garde
3 Political works
Censorship and obscenity battles
5 Union conflicts
7 Notable Authors
8 In film
9 In popular culture
10 Further reading
12 External links
Grove Press was founded in 1947 in Greenwich Village on Grove Street.
The original owners only published three books in three years and so
sold it to
Barney Rosset in 1951 for three thousand dollars.
Under Rosset's leadership, Grove introduced American readers to
European avant-garde literature and theatre, including French authors
Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jean Genet, and Eugène Ionesco. In 1954 Grove
published Samuel Beckett's play
Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot after it had been
refused by more mainstream publishers. Since then Grove has been
Beckett's U.S. publisher. Grove is also the U.S. publisher of the
works of Harold Pinter; in 2006 it published a collection called The
Essential Pinter, which includes Pinter's Nobel Lecture, entitled
"Art, Truth & Politics".In 2006 Grove published an anniversary
bilingual edition of
Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot and a special four-volume
edition of Beckett's works, with commissioned introductions by Edward
Albee, J. M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, and Colm Tóibín, to
commemorate his centenary (April 2006). Grove was also the first
American house to publish the unabridged complete works of the Marquis
de Sade, translated by Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. Grove also had an
interest in Japanese literature, publishing several anthologies as
well as works by
Kenzaburō Ōe and others.
Grove published most of the American Beats of the 1950s (Jack Kerouac,
William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg) as well as poets like Frank
O'Hara of the New York School and poets associated with Black Mountain
San Francisco Renaissance such as Robert Duncan. In 1963,
Grove published My Life and Loves: Five Volumes in One/Complete and
Unexpurgated, with annotations, collecting Frank Harris' work in one
volume for the first time.
From 1957 to 1973 Grove published Evergreen Review, a literary
magazine whose contributors included Edward Albee, Bertolt Brecht,
William S. Burroughs, Albert Camus, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Nat
Hentoff, LeRoi Jones, John Lahr, and Timothy Leary.
Grove has also from time to time published mainstream works. For
example, in 1978 it published the script from the
George Lucas film
American Graffiti under its Black Cat paperback imprint.
The defining movements of the 1960s in America—the antiwar, civil
rights, black power, counterculture, and student movements in the
United States—along with revolutions across the globe, were debated,
exposed, and discussed in Grove’s publications as was the sexual
revolution. Grove’s books challenged prevailing attitudes about sex
through dozens of erotic books, many by "anonymous" authors;
introduced the layperson to new directions in psychology through Eric
Berne’s Games People Play; and gave voice to revolutionaries around
the world, including
Che Guevara and Malcolm X. They published works
Frantz Fanon and Régis Debray, and numerous books opposing the
Vietnam war and the draft, including information on G.I. rights.
Censorship and obscenity battles
Rejecting conventional notions of obscenity and morality, Grove gained
a reputation as a controversial publisher committed to fighting
censorship as it published some of the most well-known banned books.
Grove Press published an unexpurgated version of D.H.
Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley's Lover. The U.S. Post Office Department
confiscated copies sent through the mail. Rosset sued the New York
city postmaster and his Lawyer
Charles Rembar won in New York, and
then on federal appeal.
Grove’s success in publishing
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Lady Chatterley’s Lover paved the
way for Rosset to publish another contested work that was ultimately
cleared by the courts, Henry Miller's 1934 novel, Tropic of Cancer.
The book contained explicit sexual passages and therefore could not be
published in the United States. In 1961,
Grove Press issued a copy of
the work and lawsuits were brought against dozens of individual
booksellers in many states for selling it. The issue was ultimately
settled by the U. S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Miller v.
California. (The Miller of the Miller case was unrelated to Henry
William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs novel
Naked Lunch was banned in some parts of
the world for approximately ten years. The first American publisher
was Grove Press. The book was banned by
Boston courts in 1962 due to
obscenity, but that decision was reversed in a landmark 1966 opinion
by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. This was the last
major literary censorship battle in the US. Upon publication, Grove
Press added to the book supplementary material regarding the
censorship battle as well as an article written by Burroughs on the
topic of drug addiction. Grove would publish several editions of the
novel over the next four decades, including a "Restored Text" version
in 2002. Grove also published the first American paperback editions of
other Burroughs works including The Soft Machine,
Nova Express and The
Ticket That Exploded. Grove would also publish the final collection of
the author's writings, the posthumously published Last Words: The
Final Journals of William S. Burroughs, and in 2008 published the
American first edition of And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,
the first release of a novel that Burroughs and
Jack Kerouac had
collaborated on in the mid-1940s.
Grove had to defend its
Evergreen Review on several occasions due to
what was deemed objectionable content. Issues were occasionally seized
by the authorities.
After winning several battles over the printed page, Grove built on
these victories and successfully defended the screening of Vilgot
Sjöman’s Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow).
In 1962, Grove had sales of $2 million, but after legal bills, lost
$400,000. But by 1964, they were profitable, and by 1967, Grove went
public and built its own headquarters. In 1970, the staff of 150 began
organizing a union. Rosset fired some of the organizers (and later
re-hired them in arbitration). The organizers responded with a picket
line and an occupation of the building. Rosset called the police, and
the occupiers left. His editor, Richard Seaver, talked to the pickets
and convinced them to disperse. Grove distributed an anti-union
information sheet, and the union vote failed, 86–34. After the vote,
Grove fired half its workers.
In 1985 Rosset sold
Grove Press to Ann Getty, Getty Oil, and Sir
George Weidenfeld, a British Publisher. Rosset was fired a year
Jorge Luis Borges
William S. Burroughs
Hubert Selby Jr.
Obscene, a documentary feature about Rosset and
Grove Press by Neil
Ortenberg and Daniel O’Connor, was released September 26,
2008. The film was a selection of the 2007 Toronto International
Film Festival. Featured in the film are Amiri Baraka, Lenny Bruce,
William S. Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen
Ginsberg, Al Goldstein, Erica Jong, Ray Manzarek, Michael McClure,
Henry Miller, John Rechy, Ed Sanders, Floyd Salas, John Sayles, Gore
Vidal, John Waters, and Malcolm X.
In popular culture
Grove Press is referenced several times in the AMC series Mad Men,
directly or indirectly. In Season 1, Episode 3,
Joan Holloway returns
a borrowed copy of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover; the
book's first U.S. publisher was Grove Press, who fought numerous court
battles over it. Season 2, Episode 13 is titled "Meditations in an
Emergency," after a book of poetry by
Frank O'Hara published by Grove
Press in 1957; later in the episode Don Draper is seen reading the
book, after being challenged by a colleague ("You wouldn't like it.").
The episode reportedly boosted sales of the book by 218%. Season 4,
Episode 11 features Eric Berne's Games People Play, another
best-seller published by Grove Press. In Season 5, Episode 9, Don is
seen at the theater holding an issue of Evergreen Showcard, Grove's
short-lived off-Broadway theatrical magazine. In Season 7, Episode 6,
Don mentions to Peggy that he and Megan had seen the film I Am Curious
(Yellow) the previous evening (Don: "[I'm] still scandalized." Peggy:
"Of course Megan would want to see a dirty movie."); the film's U.S.
distributor was Grove Press. In 2010, in an interesting example of art
influencing life, Grove/Atlantic (the successor company to Grove
Press) published—for real—the memoir of fictional Roger Sterling:
Sterling's Gold: Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man.
Glass, Loren. Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen
Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde. Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 2013.
^ a b c d e f Silverman, Al (2008). The Time of Their Lives: The
Golden Age of Great American Publishers, Their Editors and AuthorsThe
Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Publishers,
Their Editors and Authors. New York: Truman Talley.
^ "Grove Atlantic". www.groveatlantic.com. Archived from the original
on 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2016-07-08.
Grove Press Records, Syracuse University
^ Kaplan, Fred (July 20, 2009). "The Day
Obscenity Became Art". The
New York Times.
^ Sicha, Choire (January 9, 2012). "All the Young Dudes: A posthumous
memoir goes behind the scenes at the celebrated publisher of
Burroughs, Lawrence, and Malcolm X". Slate.
^ McGrath, Charles (September 23, 2008). "
Publisher Who Fought
Puritanism, and Won". The New York Times.
^ "Obscene: A Film By Neil Ortenberg & Daniel O'Connor". Double O
^ Zmuda, Natalie. "'Mad Men' as Fashion Muse," Advertising Age, 4 Aug
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.—Official website (
Grove Press and Atlantic
Monthly Press; with links also to Atlantic Books, Ltd., Canongate
Books, Ltd., and Open City Magazine)
Grove Press Records at Syracuse University
Venus Library (imprint of Grove Press) - Front covers of titles
Grove Press imprint: Venus Library - It's rise and fall
"Barney Rosset, The Art of Publishing No. 2". The Paris Review
(Interview) (145). Interview with Ken Jordan.