Lady Ethel Boileau (1881–1942) was an English novelist, best known for Clansmen and Ballade in G-Minor. Her correspondence with Rand began in 1936, when she wrote a glowing homage to We the Living after her American publisher had sent her a copy. After Rand read Clansmen in 1936, she wrote to Boileau that her “descriptions are so lovely that they have made me, an Americanized Russian, experience a feeling of patriotism toward Scotland. Your book makes me believe that Scotland is a country of strong individuals and, as such, she has all my sympathy and admiration.” The letter below is a rare instance of Rand commenting about World War II.
This letter was previously published only on the Ayn Rand Institute website.
June 21, 1938
Dear Lady Boileau,
Thank you so much for your letter. I was very sorry to hear that you have not been well, and I do hope that you have recovered completely. I am so happy to have met you and am looking forward to the time when you may come to American for another visit.[*]
However, looking at the picture of your charming house, I suspect that you may not be inclined to leave it often. I am sure that I should not. It has such a magnificent air of old Europe. I feel somewhat wistful as I say this, for the thought of Europe at present gives me a great deal of anxiety. I can well understand your feeling about it. I should not, perhaps, allow myself a definite opinion on the policy of a country which I do not know thoroughly, but I cannot help feeling a great sympathy for Premier Chamberlain. The least co-operation any
European country has with Soviet Russia—the greater are the chances of saving Europe from another catastrophe. I am convinced that the major forces preparing a general world conflict originate in Russia. And I can only hope that the propaganda by the Soviet “United Front” will be defeated in England. It is being defeated here, or so it seems at present. The wave of Red public opinion appears to be ebbing quite definitely in New York, where it has always been at its strongest. I feel relieved for the first time in the last few years. *)insert p.3 [Following paragraph inserted as per AR’s note.]
I do hope that you have begun your next book. And I shall be waiting impatiently for the time when you resume the story of the Mallory family. The point at which you left them in “Ballade in G-minor” makes it unfair to keep your readers waiting too long. It will be interesting to see what happens to Colin now.
I am sending you a copy of “Anthem”, my new novel which I mentioned to you. It came out in England about a month ago, I believe. But there has been some delay in my receiving the copies here and they did not arrive until a few days ago. Incidentally, the clippings of reviews have been lost on their way to me from
England and I have no idea how the book was received.[**] I have been promised duplicates and am now waiting for them. I shall be most anxious to hear your opinion of this book.[***]
At present, I am working on my next novel—the very long one about American architects. For the last few months I have been wracking my brain and nerves upon the preliminary outline. It is always the hardest part of the work for me—and my particular kind of torture. Now it is done, finished, every chapter outlined—and there are eighty of them at present! The actual writing of it is now before me, but I would rather write ten chapters than plan one. So the worst of it is over.
[Note: AR drafted the beginning of the paragraph inserted into page 2 here.]
[Note: AR drafted the end of the paragraph inserted into page 2 here.]
I received a very charming letter from Princess [Marina] Chavchavadze. As she did not tell me her address, would you be so kind as to give her for me my regards and my gratitude for the kind things she said about “We the Living”.
My husband joins me in sending you our best wishes
*In his February 21, 1938, “The First Reader” column in the New York World-Telegram, Harry Hansen notes that on February 17, Lady Boileau attended a “cocktail party given by Ayn Rand” at Town Hall in New York City.
**The reviews were generally positive. For details, see the chapter “Reviews of Anthem” in Essays on Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” edited by Robert Mayhew.
***On September 29, 1938 (the day of the Munich Agreement that ceded the Sudetenland to Germany), Boileau wrote Rand that Anthem is “an allegory of which the world of today might well heed.”
[Transcription note: The bottom half of this page is taken up with the draft of a separate letter to Rita Weiman, written at a 90 degree angle to the end of the letter to Boileau. Transcript as follows:]
Dear Rita Weiman,
Thank you so much for your kind invitation. My husband and I shall be delighted to spend the day with you on Saturday, July 2nd.
Being very late risers, we would prefer to take the 11.10 train, as I cannot quite trust myself to be in human shape by 9 a.m. Am I correct in that we are to take the 11.10 for Southport? I will appreciate it very much if you will meet us at that train.
We are eager to find a convenient place for the summer as the heat is becoming unbearable here in the city. And I always do much better work out in the country. But many things have come up during the last week, including the possibility of my going to Hollywood. I will tell you all about it when I see you. We are both looking forward to seeing you [upstate].
With best regards “from both to both”—(I have to plagiarize this, I can’t surpass it.