Letter 093

To Matilda Alford, a fan

139 East 35th Street
New York City

August 29, 1943 

Dear Mrs. Alford:

Thank you for your fine letter. I was happy to hear that you understood so well the theme and principles of “The Fountainhead.” Few people would have the courage really to understand these principles, and fewer still to apply them to their own lives. 

I suppose almost everyone has some touch of the second-hand in him, but on the evidence of your letter I do not believe that you can be classified as a second-hander. If my book can help you to develop in the way you wish, in the way of integrity and independence, I shall be deeply gratified. 

I am working at present on precisely the kind of book you suggest—a non-fiction treatise on the principles of “The Fountainhead”, on the moral bases of the creative man, of individualism as opposed to the vicious doctrine of altruism preached by collectivists. 

If you liked the ideas of “The Fountainhead”, I suggest that you read “The God of the Machine” by Isabel Paterson. It is a non-fiction book, recently published, and it presents the best, most complete statement of the principles of individualism, not in the personal, but in the political sphere, the basic laws of a free society. It should be read by all those who believe in man’s freedom.

No, I am not a second-hander, nor “still struggling.” A second-hander could not have written “The Fountainhead.” I do not say this as a boast, but merely because I have had a very hard time through refusing to be a second-hander, so I think I have the right to say it. 

Thank you for saying that you know I didn’t write my book for anyone, but wrote it because I wanted to. This is true, as it is true of any work done by any decent human being, and it showed me that you understood the whole point of my book. But there is a great difference between writing for an audience and writing as one believes, then finding an audience able to respond. In this sense, I am very happy to have readers such as yourself, and very grateful. 

Sincerely yours,