Samuel Roth

When Alger Hiss first realized that he had known Chambers in the past, he remembered him as a freelance writer named “George Crosley.” In testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Chambers denied using the name. At the second trial, however, he said it was possible that he had used it. Why did he change his testimony? The defense had obtained the following affidavit from a New York publisher named Samuel Roth. The defense decided not to call Roth as a witness at trial because of Roth’s obscenity convictions for publishing erotic literature.



SAMUEL ROTH, being duly sworn, deposes and says:

1. I am an author and publisher, at present engaged both in writing and publishing books, and I have been so engaged since the year 1917. I do business under the name of the Seven Sirens Press at 20 Vesey Street, New York 7, N.Y. I am married and live with my wife at 11 East 81st Street, New York, New York.

2. I knew a man by the name of Whittaker Chambers during the years 1926 and 1927. He was a man of medium height, careless in dress, with obviously bad teeth and sandy hair. I have followed the newspaper accounts of the testimony of Whittaker Chambers before the House Un-American Activities Committee and I am satisfied that this is the same man that I formerly knew.

3. When I knew Whittaker Chambers in 1926 and 1927, I was engaged in publishing a group of magazines entitled Two Worlds Quarterly, Two Worlds Monthly, and Secret Memoirs. In 1926, Mr. Chambers submitted to me several poems for publication under his own name. I paid for and published at least two of them. A copy of an issue of Two Worlds Quarterly containing one of such poems is attached hereto marked Exhibit A.

4. At another time during the year 1927, Mr. Chambers submitted to me a group of poems for publication in one of my magazines. These poems were submitted to me with a letter signed by Whittaker Chambers in which Mr. Chambers requested that I publish the poems under the name of “George Crosley.” It is possible he spelled the name “George Crossley.” I have made a careful search for this letter but have not been able to find it. I held these poems for about a year and could not decide whether or not to publish them. Finally, Mr. Chambers requested me to return them and I sent them to him at an address in a small town in Long Island. This address had been typed on the upper left-hand corner of each of the poems submitted to me by Mr. Chambers for publication under the name “George Crosley.”

5. I have searched whatever records I have for the years 1926 and 1927 and have not been able to find any correspondence between Mr. Chambers and myself. However, I remember clearly that Mr. Chambers submitted to me the poems referred to above for publication under the pseudonym “George Crosley.” My memory is fortified by reason of the fact that I held the poems for a long period of time and by the further fact that one of the poems was of particular interest to me.

6. During 1926 and 1927 I saw Whittaker Chambers on at least six occasions. Our relationship was primarily a business one and generally I saw him at my office. However, I believe that Mr. Chambers has been in my home. Once during this period I saw Mr. Chambers on East 13th Street, New York City, where I ran into him accidentally. At that time, I learned from him that he was working for one of the Communist newspapers, The Daily Worker or The New Masses.

7. On eight or nine occasions during my career as a publisher, both state and federal authorities have questioned the decency of the books which I have published and sold, and the illustrations which accompanied them. Most of the complaints against me were adjudicated in my favor. However, I was prosecuted and sentenced to 60 days imprisonment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for selling Ulysses by James Joyce in 1929 or thereabouts; I was prosecuted and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment in New York for selling Blank and Madonna by Boccaccio in 1928 or thereabouts; I was prosecuted and fined $100 for selling Anecdota Americana in New York City in 1933 or thereabouts. In 1936, I was prosecuted by the United States government for transmitting obscene matters through the United States mails and was sentenced to imprisonment for three years by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I served most of this sentence in the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.


Sworn to me Samuel Roth

3rd day of September, 1948

John A. Welle

Notary Public, State of New York

Residing in New York County