Tributes from the friends and admirers of Barney Rosset are being made following his death February 21. "Rosset was a brave man who won several key victories in the fight for artistic freedom in the United States," said Chris Finan, president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, referring to Rosset's tireless fights to have books like Lady Chatterley's Lover and Tropic of Cancer published despite the resistance of much of the public and, in the case of the latter, courts declaring it obscene. Tropic of Cancer finally won its battle in the Supreme Court in 1964 in a landmark First Amendment ruling.
Rosset was the former owner of Grove Press, and publisher of Evergreen Review magazine. During his career, he worked with such writers as Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Malcolm X, Kenzaburo Oe, Frantz Fanon, and Octavio Paz. Algonquin Books had been working with Rosset on his autobiography, tentatively titled The Subject Was Left-Handed, and hopes to release it within the year.
He earned numerous awards, incuding one in 1988 from the PEN American Center which awarded him with its Publisher Citation for "distinctive and continuous service to international letters, to the freedom and dignity of writers, and to the free transmission of the printed word across the barriers of poverty, ignorance, censorship, and repression." The National Book Foundation awarded Rosset its Literarian Award in 2008, an award for "outstanding service to the American Literary Community." Watch his speech below.