Leonard Read (1898–1983) was the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He was general manager of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce when Rand met him (via Isabel Paterson). The meeting took place in late 1943, when Read arranged a dinner for some pro-free enterprisers (mostly businessmen and attorneys) to meet Rand. In her biographical interviews, she reported that at the dinner “were twelve men, and I was the thirteenth, and the only woman. And we had a round table. And I met all the best conservatives there.” That seems to be a major impetus in Rand’s involvement with leaders of the “conservative” movement, a movement with which she eventually became disillusioned. In 1961, she commented that Read “was much more—how would I put it—intellectual and idealistic then than he is now. And, for a long time, both Isabel Paterson and I regarded him as the hopeful rising conservative of a practical, but intellectual kind. Which he lost totally once he went on his own.” Based on her daily calendars, her last socializing with Read seems to have been in 1951.
This letter was previously published only on the Ayn Rand Institute website.
10,000 Tampa Avenue
November 30, 1945
Thank you for your letter. I am sorry that we didn’t have a chance to see you again before we left New York. If you come to the Coast again on one of your flying trips, do let us know and try to give us an evening if possible.
I didn’t have any extra copies of “The Fountainhead”, but I got one here in town, have autographed it and am sending it to your friends, as you requested. The enclosed buck is your change—you sent four dollars and the book cost only $3.00. The postage is something like 7 cents, so I’ll contribute that.
Thanks for the copy of Rose Wilder Lane’s book reviews. I appreciate very much her note on my book. Yes, she has done a very good job on Bastiat and she is an excellent reviewer.
You asked where to get “We the Living”. It’s out of print. I have only my own single copy left. But I’m sending you, under separate cover, a copy of the English edition. It’s the same as the American edition, except that my love scenes have been slightly censored, unfortunately.
Let me know if anything of interest is happening among our conservatives. It seemed awfully dull and disappointing to me, what I saw of their activities in New York.
My trip east has done me a lot of good—I feel rested and reconciled to California for a while. But I’ll always miss New York and I’ll always love it better than any place on earth.
With best regards from both of us,
On December 28, 1945, Read replied, “I am only partly through [We the Living], but what a book!”