October 27, 1963
A3/C Rudolph G. Crute
AF12671446 6314 APRON
APO 970 FLT “C”
San Francisco, California
Dear Mr. Crute:
Thank you for your letter of September 5. It reached me just as I was leaving for the West Coast for some speaking engagements, so this is the first chance I had to answer you.
“Ayn Rand” is my pen name. My legal name is Mrs. Frank O’Connor.
Yes, my husband is very much one of my characters. If you noticed a certain similarity of appearance in Howard Roark, John Galt, Hank Rearden and Francisco d’Anconia—the reason is that my husband was the model. And the same is true of their spiritual resemblance. You may be interested to know that he is an artist.
I do not have any snapshots of myself to send you, so I am enclosing a copy of the photograph which appeared on the jacket of the hardbound edition of Atlas Shrugged. It was taken in my publisher’s office, but it will have to do.
You say that you want to know what I like and dislike. I will answer you by paraphrasing Howard Roark in The Fountainhead: “Don’t ask me about my family, my childhood, my friends or my feelings. Ask me about the things I think.” The only thing that really interests me is ideas. And since you asked me to correspond with you because you were lonely for intellectual conversation, it is ideas that we should discuss.
If you want to learn more about me as a person, I suggest that you read a book called Who Is Ayn Rand?, published by Random House. If you cannot afford to buy it, perhaps you can ask your library to get it for you.
Yes, I would like you to tell me more about yourself. You know a great deal about me from my books, but I do not know you, so tell me whatever you regard as important and characteristic of yourself.
You write: “It could be conceit, but I find myself in every one of your works.” It may or may not be conceit, depending on what you mean by it. Would you tell me a little more specifically? What characters do you like, what traits do you have in common with them, what particular passages have a personal significance for you, etc.?
You say that you had given up the thing which you loved most and which is art. Why did you give it up, and what career have you chosen instead?
As to the painting which you want to do, and which you want to call “Mind and Ayn Rand”—I must tell you that I cannot allow you to do that. I do not allow my name to be used by anyone for any purpose of his own. I appreciate your intention, but your painting has to stand on your own name and on its own merit.
Yes, I am very much interested in art. I will learn a great deal about you if you tell me which artists or particular paintings are your favorites, and which you dislike most.
As to your request that I refer to you as “Gerard,” this is a request that you should not make. Meaning no offense, I am much older than you are and you should leave that up to me. Don’t rush things by striving for an artificial informality.
By the way, did you draw the circle of dancing girls on the envelope of your letter, or were they printed there? They are well drawn, but if they’re yours, don’t you think you’d better put drawings inside the envelope?
None of the above is intended as any kind of reproach or “bawling out.” It’s all part of the process of getting acquainted.
With best wishes,