Newman Flower (1879–1964) was the proprietor of the publishing house Cassell & Co., which published We the Living, Anthem and The Fountainhead in the United Kingdom. Flower is best known for publishing Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and The Second World War. After receiving a copy of the U.S. edition of We the Living, Flower wrote to AR on April 14, 1936: “I think this is a magnificent piece of work, and one of the finest first novels I have ever read in my life… I am looking forward to seeing you [become] one of the most successful novelists on Cassell’s list.” Rand’s letter below is in response to a May 11, 1936, letter from Flower in which his specific suggestions were preceded by a more general explanation: “I will be very grateful if you will make one or two modifications in the proofs which I enclose, or else allow the penciled alterations to stand. The reason is this: the principal book buyer in this country is Boot’s Library. In America one can be more frank in a book than here because, if there is too much frankness, Boot’s will not take the book. This means the loss of the biggest customer.”
This letter was previously published only on the Ayn Rand Institute website.
Sixty-six Park Avenue
June 3, 1936
Dear Mr. Flower,
Thank you for your letter and the suggestions of changes in the galleys of my book.
I am perfectly willing to make the changes suggested, for I consider the somewhat too frank love passages as the least important ones in the book and I certainly would not want to let them handicap the novel as a whole or detract any possible buyers from it.
I do approve of the changes made and I have marked them on each galley with my initials.
On galley 51, I have no objection whatever to substituting “stove” for “Primus” if there is the slightest danger of a libel suit.
In regard to galley 63, your editor was quite correct in saying that a “Primus” is lighted with spirit first. That is the proper way to light it, but spirit was so expensive in Russia at the time that everyone had to use kerosene instead, which added to the discomfort of using a “Primus”. I have inserted a few words of explanation to that effect; if you consider it advisable you may keep the insertion in the text; if not—please omit it.
On galley 42, I made an additional cut of three lines which may be considered objectionable. You may keep the lines in, if you find it safe, or eliminate them if it is preferable.
On galley 39, in the most objectionable scene of the book, I cut out the entire ending of the scene. I think you will agree with me that it is better to do so. The only importance of the scene is the psychology of Kira’s surrender in a cold, tense, matter of fact manner, without the usual sentimental love-making. I have kept enough of the scene to suggest this. The rest—the description of physical details—is not
Sixty-six Park Avenue
really important. Particularly if the strongest lines are cut out of the last paragraphs, the remaining lines have very little meaning, since they do not even create a definite mood. So I think it is best to omit these last paragraphs entirely. It will be safer and the story as such will not suffer from the omission.
If you find any other passages that arouse doubt on the same grounds as the above, please let me know and I shall be glad to adjust them. Of course I will want to see the suggested changes before they are printed and I would appreciate it if you would send them to me in advance, as the ones we have made so far. I would also appreciate it very much if you would send me the galleys when they are ready, for there were a few mistakes in the American galleys, which were corrected later and which the proofreader may not be able to catch.
If I am free in September when the book comes out, I shall be delighted to come to London. Until then, please let me know if you need any further information or pictures of me for publicity. I am collecting all the reviews on my book which are still coming in and I shall send them to you in a few days.
With best wishes,