Barry Moser is an American book designer, illustrator, printmaker, educator, and writer who is best known for his incomparably beautiful, stark, and atmospheric relief engravings. The list of books Moser has illustrated and/or designed comes to over three hundred titles, many of which were published under the imprint of his Pennyroyal Press, which began publishing in 1970. His work is represented in numerous collections, including The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Metropolitan Museum, The British Museum, The Library of Congress, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Pierpont Morgan Library, and The Vatican Library.
Among Moser’s most celebrated works are Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (University of California Press), Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Pennyroyal Press), which was awarded the National Book Award for design in 1982, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (all from Pennyroyal Press). His magnum opus, the magnificent Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, was published in 1999.
Barry Moser was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1940. He attributes his disciplined and often systematic approach to design and engraving to his early education at The Baylor School, a local military academy. Moser wanted to become an animator but his family frowned on that path, so he went to Auburn University to study industrial design. He later transferred to the University of Chattanooga from which he graduated in 1962. Tiring of the racism and bigotry of the South at that time, he moved his family to Massachusetts in 1967. There, at Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press, he discovered the book as an art form, and that is where his life as an artist flourished.
Barry Moser is currently on the faculty of Smith College, where he is the Irwin and Pauline Alper Glass Professor of Art and the Printer to the College. He and his wife live nearby on some forested acres with an elderly English mastiff. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill will be publishing Moser’s memoir, Portrait of Two Brothers, in 2015.