Grove Press, named for Grove Street in Greenwich Village, started as a small reprint house in 1948. By 1951, when Barney Rosset became a partner (and then owner), the firm had published only three paperbacks: a book of poetry by seventeenth-century mystical writer Richard Crashaw, Melville’s The Confidence Man, and The Selected Writings of the Ingenious Mrs. Aphra Behn; the first book brought to Grove by Rosset was Henry James’s The Golden Bowl. Very much influenced by New Directions, Faber & Faber, and Chatto & Windus, Rosset soon introduced the writings of Beckett, Genet, Robbe-Grillet, Gide, and Ionesco to an American audience. Rosset believed in “combat publishing,” and his ongoing challenge to mainstream American sensibilities has landed him in court many, many times. He fought and won battles for D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (for which he went to court in sixty separate state and local prosecutions, six state supreme court rulings, and a US Supreme Court hearing).
For many, Grove Press really defined the character of the international literary underground. Donald Allen, the first editor at Grove (other than Rosset), edited the anthology The New American Poetry 1945–1960, the importance and influence of which cannot be overestimated—San Francisco Renaissance, Black Mountain, Beat, the New York School, are all here brought together and center stage. This book might well be considered the “flash point” for the renaissance in literary writing and small press publishing that would flourish within a few short years of its publication. Along with its stable of European writers, Grove also published such Americans as Ted Berrigan (The Sonnets went through two printings totaling 6,000 copies), Paul Blackburn, William S. Burroughs, Hubert Selby, Jr., Richard Brautigan, Robert Duncan, and Charles Olson, among many others.
Grove Press books include
Allen, Donald M., ed. The New American Poetry 1945–1960. 1960.
Berrigan, Ted. The Sonnets. 1967.
Blackburn, Paul. The Cities. 1967.
Brautigan, Richard. A Confederate General from Big Sur. 1964. Cover from a painting by Larry Rivers.
Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch. 1959.
Burroughs, William S. Nova Express. 1964.
Burroughs, William S. The Soft Machine. 1966. Cover reproduction of a drawing by the author.
Burroughs, William S. The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead. 1971.
Duncan, Robert. The Opening of the Field. 1960. Title page designed by Jess.
The Evergreen Review Reader 1957–1967. 1968. Edited by Barney Rosset.
Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. 1966.
Ginsberg, Allen. Journals: Early Fifties, Early Sixties. 1977. Edited by Gordon Ball.
H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Helen in Egypt. 1961.
Jones, LeRoi. The Dead Lecturer. 1964. Cover photograph of the author by Leroy McLucas.
Jones, LeRoi. The System of Dante’s Hell. 1965.
Kandel, Lenore. Word Alchemy. 1967.
Kerouac, Jack. Mexico City Blues. 1959. Cover by Roy Kuhlman.
Kerouac, Jack. Satori in Paris. 1966.
Koch, Kenneth. The Pleasures of Peace, and Other Poems. 1969.
Kupferberg, Tuli. 1001 Ways to Beat the Draft. 1967.
Kupferberg, Tuli. 1001 Ways to Live Without Working. 1967.
Kupferberg, Tuli. 1001 Ways to Make Love. 1969.
Machiz, Herbert, ed. Artists’ Theatre: Four Plays. 1960.
McClure, Michael. The New Book/A Book of Torture. 1961.
Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer. 1961.
Miller, Henry. Tropic of Capricorn. 1961.
Odier, Daniel. The Job: Interviews with William Burroughs. 1974. Revised and enlarged edition.
O’Hara, Frank. Meditations in an Emergency. 1957.
Olson, Charles. The Distances: Poems. 1960.
Olson, Charles. Human Universe and Other Essays. 1967.
Rechy, John. City of Night. 1963. Cover photograph by Richard Seaver.
Reynolds, Frank. Freewheelin Frank, Secretary of the Angels, as told to Michael McClure. 1967.
Rosenthal, Irving. Sheeper. 1967.
Sanders, Ed. Shards of God. 1970.
Selby, Hubert, Jr. Last Exit to Brooklyn. 1964.
Tyler, Parker. Underground Film: A Critical History. 1969.
Woolf, Douglas. Fade Out. 1959.