Miss Anna Rothe
The H. W. Wilson Company
950-972 University Avenue
New York City
Dear Miss Rothe:
Thank you for sending me the biographical article about me. I have corrected it and am returning it fast, as you see. You may publish it only as I have corrected it.
The article surprised me a great deal. Since you sent it to me, I take for granted your good faith and courtesy. But I believe that you have not read it yourself before you mailed it to me. Have you seen what your writers perpetrated on page 7? Do you believe that I would let things like that be printed with my permission and co-operation? I dislike to think of the motive which prompted those who made these selections. If objectivity was the purpose in the selection of these quotations—then why was the review of the Sunday Times Books so conspicuously omitted, to name just one of several others?
There is no obligation upon Current Biography to publish any biography of me at all. But if they find that they want to do it and if they get requests for it, they are publishing it for people who are interested in reading about me. They have, therefore, no moral (or legal) right to use me and my life as a sounding board for smears.
I must insist that you use no quotations from reviewers at all about The Fountainhead—good or bad. A biography is a factual record; opinions have no place in it.
I think you owe me the courtesy of stating what the theme of The Fountainhead actually is—
as I have marked it on your copy. Otherwise, the article gives the impression that it’s a novel about architecture; it isn’t.
Also, you should state the real history of the sale of the book—as I have marked it. It was not an immediate success. People such as those you quote did their damndest to prevent it from being. I want the record to be kept straight.
My reasons for the other changes I made in your copy are as follows:
Page 1 The ground of my belief in individualism is not “because only in an individualistic society can genius flourish.” It’s much more than that.
Page 1 Renaissance architecture is bad architecture.
Page 2 You must have got the details I cut out from interviews I’ve never seen. I don’t remember telling anyone that “I gestured.” Some reporter probably put it that way. I didn’t.
Page 5 “We the Living” was not autobiographical! Again, I believe you quoted something from “The Nation” or “The New Republic.” I have asked you not to use leftist sources.
Page 5 “The finger of God” skyscraper was a figure of speech put into my mouth by a fool. I never said that.
Page 8 One should not try to improve upon Aristotle. What he said is not what was substituted here.
Page 9 Never in my life have I said that “plays should entertain, not preach.” Where did you get that from?
Page 9 The novel referred to here is going to be the one after next—so it’s better to omit that, it won’t be written for years.
If you find that the article is now too short, I suggest that you quote a few things from the printed letter I sent you. This will give your
readers a truer picture of me than anything else can—and a true picture of me is, I presume, what they want.
For my protection, as well as yours, I would suggest that you send me the actual proofs of the article before you print it. I shall return them as promptly.
No entry for Ayn Rand appeared in Current Biography until the 1982 edition, after her death. Of the offending aspects cited in the letter above, only the “finger of God” comment appears in the 1982 entry. No copy of the 1946 draft is in the Ayn Rand Archives.