1974 July 3

“Notorious” Publisher Samuel Roth Dies


Samuel Roth is most famous for his obscenity conviction that led to the Supreme Court decision in Roth v. United States, decided on June 24, 1957, which held that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment. The Roth decision launched a long series of decisions in which the Court wrestled with the question of the scope of First Amendment protection for sex-related materials.

Roth had a long history as a publisher, beginning in the 1920s, and was arrested many times for publishing sexually oriented books and magazines. He was also sentenced to prison several times. Because he published a bootlegged edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses in the 1920s, he was regarded as a notorious renegade by most people in the literary world.

Learn more about Samuel Roth’s career: Whitney Strub, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (2013)

Learn more: Charles Rembar, The End of Obscenity: The Trials of Lady Chatterley, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill (1968)

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