The Pennyroyal Press: Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus

To Moser, Frankenstein aligned with, as he put it, moral transgressions of the twentieth century, the failure of compassion, the reticence to communicate, the inability to empathize, and the pervasive and malignant presence of racism and bigotry. Struggling to confront the racism of his upbringing and family, Moser found a vehicle in Frankenstein’s “demon,” a being beset on all sides by revulsion and hatred. Conscious to avoid the characterizations of popular film versions, he endeavored to recreate the demon by sewing chicken skin on a plastic armature skull he had in his studio and documenting its decay. What emerged was a fresh interpretation of Mary Shelley’s critique of our flawed human condition.

Go here to see available engravings and sketches from Frankenstein.

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Fifty-two wood engravings.  Printed in several colors by Harold P. McGrath, in Poliphilus and Wilhelm Klingsporschrift on Pulegium, a paper made by Strathmore Mills for Pennyroyal. Copies 1-50 bound in half leather at Samuel Ellenport’s Harcourt Bindery with a bronze medallion struck from an original design by Moser embedded in the spine of the slipcase.  Copies 51-350 bound in half leather accompanied by an additional suite of signed prints all in a cloth slipcase.


I’m often asked, which of my books is my favorite and I usually respond with the single word Frankenstein.  It is my favorite because it, more than the others, exemplefies what I hold to be ideal: it holds together as a unit, a cohesive whole with type, text, and images well-balanced and well paced.   

  –Barry Moser for the 1986 Pennyroyal Press checklist.