To James Cleary [Letter 25]

Item Reference Code: 078_13B_015_001

Date(s) of creation

April 8, 1936


James Cleary


James Cleary was the court-appointed arbiter in the case AR brought against A. W. Woods, producer of Night of January 16th on Broadway. 

This letter was previously published only in the Winter 2017–18 issue of The Objective Standard.

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April 8, 1936

Dear Mr. Cleary,

This is only a very inadequate way of expressing my profound gratitude to you for your help, understanding and sense of justice. I must admit that I was quite frightened when I faced the arbitration, not only because of what was involved, but because it was my first encounter with law and I felt that, should I lose, I would also lose all faith in justice and carry a sense of bitterness throughout the rest of my life. You have spared me this, and nothing I can say will ever express all my gratitude to you.

Since my novel “We the Living” is the thing most precious to me and the only achievement of which I can feel proud, I am taking the liberty of sending it to you as token of my deepest appreciation. Perhaps, it will help you to forget that I ever wrote “Night of January 16”, which, in its present form, I can hardly consider a credit to any reputation I may have as a writer. And I would like you to remember me

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as something more than the author of what had once been a good play.

Thanking you again for your kindness, [firmness], and patience, I am

Gratefully yours,

Ayn Rand


On April 20, 1936, Cleary responded, thanking AR for her book and commenting, “There is promise in its early pages of an increasingly absorbing story, a pleasingly vivid style of literary portraiture throughout, and a better and timely acquaintance for our people with the practical results of the collectivism experiment in Russia. I hope it will be widely read.”