Larry the Goniff

H. Lawrence Hoffman, 1911–1977, book jacket designer, illustrator, painter, teacher.

H. Lawrence Hoffman
Larry Hoffman at his desk.Courtesy of Caroline Hoffman.

A RISD grad (class of 1934) and post-grad, H. Lawrence Hoffman had a remarkable career during which he designed more than 650 book covers and jackets—as he kept neither records nor his own artwork, the exact total remains elusive and growing. Until 1948, he worked mainly for mass market paperback publishers, creating a dazzling variety of pulp fiction and mystery covers. While working with Sol Immerman, he illustrated all but 11 of the first 125 covers for Popular Library. He rendered the cover illustration as a smaller line drawing on the title page. After 1948, he left frenetic, poorly-paid mass market covers behind to design dust jackets for traditional publishers. He contributed the jacket, endpapers and illustrations for The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer, which was among the AIGA’s fifty best books of the year in 1948. Hoffman taught illustration and lettering at Cooper Union from 1960–1967 and was a Professor of Art at C.W. Post University from 1967-1976. Filmmaker David Hoffman, made this short video about his father and his creative, humorous work.

In the Spring of 1972, Dorothy and Ismar David had friends over to their apartment. Bob Leslie, Phil Grushkin and Larry Hoffman were present. A silver spoon went missing…

Letter from H. Lawrence Hoffman
Letter from H. Lawrence Hoffman, May 1972.

May 1972

Dear Dorothy:

Last night we were dressing for a dinner party—the first since we visited you—and guess what I found in my pocket. I decided to mail it to you anonymously— but Eve voted that down! So now you know I am the culprit! But I assure you the item was planted on me— probably by Gruskin [sic] or Leslie—both of whom have shifty, untrustworthy eyes.

We also send our Love
Larry the goniff.

Announcement from H. Lawrence Hoffman
Change of address announcement from H. Lawrence Hoffman.
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