March 5, 1949. 3 page typed letter signed in ink "Ayn." On Rand's personal Chatsworth, California letterhead measuring 7 x 10.5" with small rust stain and small holes to upper left corner from removed staple. Dated at top March 5, 1949 and addressed to longtime friend Marjorie Hiss.
An unexpectedly personal letter from Rand to a friend seeking advice on her ending marriage, her view of selfhood, and her writing. As Marjorie Hiss's relationship concludes, Rand urges her not to blame herself: "There are so many things I'd like to say that it's impossible to do in a letter. I'd like to convince you that you must not torture yourself by regretting the past...You had no way of knowing in advance that Philip would never change. No man's character is set for life. Philip could have changed if he had cared to change his ideas." Taking a highly feminist perspective, she further encourages Marjorie to push against social views of age and to be optimistic about her new phase in life. "It is never too late to start on a new road, and it is certainly not too late for you...I wish I could beat out of your head the idea that a woman is interesting, happy, and attractive only in the bobby-soxer's age. It is one of those vicious bromides that people believe only because everybody repeats it without reason. I think it's a remnant of savagery...from the times when women were married off at 12 and were old at the age of 30." One of the great ways of developing oneself, for Rand, is through experience that inspires writing. Clearly Marjorie too has ideas to write, and Rand gives her insightful advice on going about it. "A novel is not a matter of writing down real events as they happened, no matter how exciting they were in real life," she explains, "It takes something else entirely. A writer capable of doing it would not be a ghost writer." Of her own writing, Rand expresses pride and excitement. "I've had a very exciting year. The Fountainhead was finally made into a picture this past summer. I wrote the script, and the miracle of it was that my script was shot verbatim, word for word as I wrote it, without any changes. I had no legal way to compel the studio to do it, so you know how unusual this was for Hollywood. We had a preview of the picture a couple of months ago, and according to the Warner Brothers' executives, it was the most sensational preview they ever attended...I am now working on my new novel [Atlas Shrugged], which I have had to interrupt for the picture. The novel is a long, complicated job, and I won't have it finished for about a year." Even in this highly intimate and even warm letter, Rand's objectivism shines through. Philip failed as an individual to change himself and save his marriage. Despite the collective's problematic view of women, Marjorie as an individual has the ability to take control of her life and write her experiences. And Rand herself has succeeded as an individual intellect by keeping control of her novel's transformation to the screen, and by beginning a new magnum opus. An exceptional letter that has only been published in part, with all references to her own writing excised.
The Letters of Ayn Rand 431-433 (appearing in part, with portion addressing The Fountainhead excised). Provenance: From the private collection of Jay T. Snider (Item #2758)