1. Barney Rosset in front of Evergreen Review poster by Tomi Ungerer, 1970. 2. Roy Kuhlman, c.1962.

Barney Rosset was the force behind the legendary publishing house, but Roy Kuhlman contributed strongly to its renown with his innovative book covers.

The legacy of Grove Press is well known within literary circles - how Barney Rosset bought a fledgling but failing publishing company in the early 1950s and changed the world of letters in America, and perhaps the very culture as well; how during the early years of post-World War II disillusionment and materialism - the era of the gray-flannel suit and suburban expansion, the Korean conflict, and the rise of McCarthyism - Grove Press brought to national prominence the writers, art, and artists of the avant-garde. Grove offered many readers their first introduction to the European dramatists of the Absurd, the French Surrealists, the San Francisco and New York "Beat" poets, and the New York Abstract Expressionists. Such groundbreaking works as Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby and Naked Lunch by William Burroughs represented a literary vanguard. Grove went on to champion African American, ethnic, and Third World literature, the politics of the New Left, while at the same time fighting some of the earliest and most important anti-censorship battles, setting legal precedents that still stand today.
All but forgotten is the concurrent history of design at Grove Press. Equally innovative, and ultimately almost as influential, Grove Press book covers reflected not only the work inside, but also the prevailing zeitgeist. The iconoclastic writing was echoed in the packaging, a marriage of imagery and the written word that had not been seen before, or, perhaps, since.
Rosset became famous as an intrepid trail-blazer who brought banned and avant-garde literature to a deprived American public. Guided by his quixotic spirit, and by such talented editors as Fred Jordan, Richard Seaver, Donald Allen, and later Kent Carroll and John Oakes, Grove Press established itself as a force in publishing. The covers, the work of a young artist named Roy Kuhlman, who arrived on Grove's doorstep in 1951, contributed notably to the company's image as a distinguished and innovative publishing house.