To PFC Gerald James, a fan [Letter 170]

Item Reference Code: 036_01B_020_001

Date(s) of creation

August 18, 1945


Gerald James


[Page 1]
10,000 Tampa Avenue
Chatsworth, California

August 18, 1945

P.F.C. Gerald James
Tr E 113 Cav. Recon. Sqd.
APO 758 c/o P.M. NYC

Dear Gerald James:

Thank you. I’m glad you thought “The Fountainhead” was “out of this world.” That’s what I intended it to be—in more ways than one.

To answer all your questions in proper order:

1. How was the book received by the public? Beautifully—for which I’m very grateful. It was made by the public—against the opposition of all the intellectual Tooheys. The book’s been growing in sales for two years, through word-of-mouth publicity, until now it’s high on all the best-seller lists.

2. Who is Frank O’Connor? Howard Roark, or as near to it as anyone I know. Incidentally, he’s my husband.

3. Are my characters copies of people in real life? No. I’ll let you in on a professional secret: Don’t ever believe the stories about authors putting people into novels. That idea is a kind of joke on both authors and readers. All the readers believe that authors do it. All the authors know that it can’t be done. What an author actually does is this: he observes real life, deduces the abstract principles behind certain actions or characters, and then creates his own characters out of the abstraction. The resemblance to real people is one of principle—not of literal, personal copying.

4. Have I embodied some of my own qualities in Dominique? Yes. Am I Dominique? No. As the enclosed picture of me will demonstrate. Sorry to disappoint you there, but I never thought I’d live to be a pin-up girl, so I couldn’t pass up such a chance—if that space on your wall is still blank.

5. Have I published any other novels? One other. My first novel was called “We the Living” and was published in 1936.

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6. What type of house am I living in now? In a house which I own and which is extremely modern—made of steel, glass and concrete, mostly glass. So you see, I’m the kind of ball player who endorses only what she really smokes—and smokes only what she really endorses. And that goes for all the other ideas, principles and philosophy endorsed in “The Fountainhead,” besides architecture.

I’m glad you liked my book. We’re even. I liked your letter.

With my best wishes to you and your friend,



Ayn Rand