To Michael O’Shaughnessy, a fan [Letter 176]

Item Reference Code: 036_01B_008_001

Date(s) of creation

November 30, 1945


Michael O’Shaughnessy


10,000 Tampa Avenue
Chatsworth, California

November 30, 1945

Dear Mr. O’Shaughnessy:

Thank you for your letter. I liked it very much. I liked its tone, manner and intention. That is very rare for me, as far as letters are concerned, complimentary ones in particular.

The success of “The Fountainhead” was made by conversations among its readers. It was very interesting to me to hear about one such actual conversation. Who is your friend the architect? Please say thank you to him for me.

No, I have not thought about a play from my book and I would not let anyone attempt such an undertaking. Neither the theme of “The Fountainhead” nor its story nor any important part of it could be presented within the limitations of a stage and of two-and-a-half hours. It is most positively not stage material. Are you a playwright? If you are, I am sorry to disappoint you. But I do appreciate your interest.

If “The Fountainhead” has helped you in your views on life and in your decisions—that is very important and I am very glad.

How it feels to have written it? Well, that is a question I couldn’t answer. But as an approximation, look at the last paragraph on page 327.

Sincerely yours,


Ayn Rand


The mentioned paragraph describes Roark looking at the just completed Enright House, his first major project. It reads in part: “The young photographer glanced at Roark’s face—and thought of something that had puzzled him for a long time: he had always wondered why the sensations one felt in dreams were so much more intense than anything one could experience in waking reality . . . .  the quality of what he felt when he walked down a path through tangled green leaves in a dream, in an air full of expectation, of causeless, utter rapture . . . . He thought of that because he saw that extra quality for the first time in waking existence, he saw it in Roark’s face lifted to the building.”