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Howard Roark and Frank Lloyd Wright

What are the actual relationships between the famed architect and Rand’s fictional hero?

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What is the connection between Frank Lloyd Wright and Howard Roark, the architect hero of The Fountainhead? Biographical writings about Wright often contain references to Ayn Rand, with special attention paid to the relationship between Wright and Roark. Opinions concerning this relationship range from Ayn Rand’s, according to which the connection goes little beyond their basic approaches to architecture, to that of at least one critic who believes that Roark is virtually a copy of Wright. The intent of this chapter is to explore the relationship between Roark and Wright and to determine the facts. The answer is certainly of biographical significance for both Rand and Wright. But the answer also has import regarding Ayn Rand’s originality and methodology, particularly with respect to the source of her fictional characters: as a “romantic realist” she inveighed against naturalistic copying of people from real life. So, it is relevant to what extent Frank Lloyd Wright is embodied in the character of Howard Roark.

To settle the issue of Wright’s relationship to Roark, I first provide some background leading to the publication of The Fountainhead. I then describe the answers from critics, and from Wright and Rand. After assessing these various claims, I explore the actual relationship of Wright to Roark and the role Wright played in Ayn Rand’s classic novel.


In late 1935, when Ayn Rand made her first notes1 for The Fountainhead (then called “Second-Hand Lives”), the careers of Rand and Wright were at much different stages. Rand was thirty years old, not yet ten years removed from her escape from the tyranny of Soviet Russia. She had recently sold her first film scenario and her first novel, We the Living. In contrast, in 1935, Wright was sixty-eight years old, had two hundred and thirty works to his credit,2 and had what for most architects was a complete career.3 His fame had grown to the point where he had appeared on the cover of Time magazine. When Ayn Rand moved to New York City in December 1934, she began the research for her “architecture novel.” It is not known when she selected architecture as the background, but such was clearly the case by the time she made her first notes. In 1936 she began reading books about architecture, including numerous Wright books, foremost among them his autobiography.

In December 1937, Rand wrote to Wright, requesting a meeting, but he turned her down. Although she had a brief, formal introduction to him in 1938, they had no personal meeting until after the publication of The Fountainhead, at a 1944 get-together at the home of Wright’s son Lloyd, followed in 1945 by her visit to Taliesin East as Wright’s guest. For about 20 years, there was scattered correspondence between them, principally regarding The Fountainhead and the house (never built) that Wright designed for her in 1946.4


Let us now turn to the controversy over how similar Roark is to Wright. That controversy has its source primarily in Wright biographers. At the one end of the spectrum—denying any significant connection—is Brendan Gill, who wrote that “Howard Roark is widely supposed to have been based on Wright, though Rand denied it many times and so, with reason, did Wright.”5 Unfortunately, Gill does not explain his position, one which few other biographers share. Some writers, such as Finis Farr, are content to repeat the claim that there is a close connection without committing to it himself:

Wright received another distinction that he was willing to do without when he was identified by many as the hero of a work of fiction. Whether or not Miss Rand . . . had noted the facts of Wright’s career, readers saw a resemblance between certain of his tribulations and some of those endured by Miss Rand’s gloriously independent architect hero.6

Biographer Robert C. Twombly has the same viewpoint, remarking, without references, that The Fountainhead is “supposedly based on Wright’s life.”7 And some reviewers of the 1949 film of The Fountainhead took the same approach, the New York Post’s Archer Winsten writing that the novel “is said to be based on” the career of Frank Lloyd Wright.8

Biographer Ada Louise Huxtable takes a similar tack:

[T]he architect-hero, Howard Roark, commonly believed to be modeled on Frank Lloyd Wright, had made generations of young women swoon. Roark is portrayed as a brilliantly creative, fiery genius, embattled by the establishment, who defiantly blows up his consummate work of art, a skyscraper [sic], rather than see his talent and integrity compromised.9

Meryle Secrest, assuming that Roark was intended to be based on Wright, wrote that early chapters Rand sent to Wright “were enough to show him that she had perceived nothing about the essential Wright. . . . Her hero ought to have been an ascetic like Le Corbusier. . . . [Rand] later stated that her hero was not Frank Lloyd Wright, but she acted as if he were. . . .”10

Other writers are more insistent that there is a close connection. John Sergeant, in his book about Wright’s Usonian houses, mentions “The Fountainhead, whose architect hero was a thinly disguised life of Wright. . . .”11 Newsweek magazine, in its 1949 review of the film, declared that Roark “bears an unmistakable resemblance to the great Frank Lloyd Wright.”12 Responding to a published letter in Life magazine in 1946 inquiring about the connection, the Life editor wrote that

Miss Rand has not publicly denied any connection . . . but both are complete individualists, unallied with any group or school. Wright studied under Functionalist Louis Sullivan, who was the first to build the simple, slablike office building. Roark’s master was Henry Cameron, designer of functional skyscrapers. And both Roark and Wright lead very complicated lives.13

The editor merely suggests that Roark and Wright are closely connected and implies that if Ayn Rand didn’t publicly deny it, then it might very well be true.

The most extreme position is taken by Franklin Toker, whose Fallingwater Rising is a history of Fallingwater, Wright’s most famous building. Toker is relentless: “Wright,” he alleges, “served as the model for architect Howard Roark,”14 “Everyone knows that Rand’s architect-hero Howard Roark is a stand-in for Frank Lloyd Wright,”15 “any reader of reasonable cultural background knew that Roark was Wright,”16 and, apparently unable to hold back any longer, Toker finally fuses the two: “She thought it was romantic to have Roark/Wright. . . .”17 Toker at least makes an attempt to prove his position; others seem to consider it sufficient to repeat what is “commonly believed” and let that serve as evidence. But, it must be noted, Toker’s evidence—in fact, his main thesis—borders on the bizarre. Obsessed with the historical importance of Fallingwater, he interprets everything as revolving around that great building. Thus, The Fountainhead, in Toker’s scenario, is really the story of Fallingwater in disguise, with numerous hidden allusions to the building and its owner, Pittsburgh businessman Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. “It was,” claims Toker, “after the MoMA exhibition (in 1938)18 that she changed the title to Fountainhead, which echoes Fallingwater in the identical twelve-letter length, the initial F, and a parallel aqueous image.”19 In fact, Ayn Rand selected that title from her thesaurus, after her editor convinced her that the working title, “Second-Hand Lives,” emphasized her villains not heroes and that her next choice, “The Prime Movers,” sounded like a book about movers.20 She then selected “Mainspring,” another non-aqueous title, which was already taken. Toker then cites a further example of the “disguised” nature of the novel:

Roark’s ferocious antagonist at the fictive Stanton Institute of Technology bore the name of the New York traditional architect John B. Peterkin. Though the toponym “Pittsburgh” appears nowhere in the novel, Rand evidently wanted her readers to be subliminally aware of the Kaufmanns’ city.21

In sum, Toker’s discussion of The Fountainhead is a case study in a priori argument, deciding his conclusion in advance and then trying to fit the evidence (most of which is speculation) to the conclusion.

A potentially more promising source is The Fountainheads: Wright, Rand, the FBI and Hollywood, an entire book devoted to the relationship between Wright and Rand, by Donald Leslie Johnson, an architectural historian. Johnson’s book—or at least his title—is promising because it deals directly with the relationship between Rand and Wright. Johnson openly disputes the validity of Ayn Rand’s statement that the only similarities between Roark and Wright are their approach to principles and their innovativeness.22 But doubt arises with his next sentence: their personal characters and “conviction to principle” (he probably means “commitment” to principle) are similar. This, apparently, is meant to rebut Rand’s claim that being principled is one of the few things they have in common, but he has “refuted” her by agreeing with her. And, of course, they could both be honest, courageous, independent, and principled without in the least contradicting Rand’s claim about their disparate personalities, philosophies, and biographies. Doubt increases with Johnson’s next sentence: their professional biographies and private lives, he contends, are dissimilar. In other words, they’re very similar except that they aren’t. Finally, he tells us that his ensuing discussion will reveal how similar they really are. But the reader waits in vain: there is no direct discussion of the similarities between Roark and Wright, nor are these supposed similarities implicitly revealed in any of the rest of the book.

Johnson’s book-length study, in fact, provides less argumentation than does a brief analysis by Andrew Saint, in his Image of the Architect. Saint devotes two pages to The Fountainhead and Wright, and additional pages to Wright himself. Saint holds that Ayn Rand’s denial of “any direct connection” rings false, and he suggests that she denied it precisely because it was true that “Wright’s personality and philosophy lie so close to the heart” of the novel.23 “Nevertheless,” Saint continues, “facts speak for themselves.” What are these “facts” that establish the “direct connection”? Saint first mentions that Rand bought a house by a one-time Wright admirer (Richard Neutra), that she visited Wright at Taliesin, and that she commissioned a house by Wright. Then, perhaps realizing that such evidence—given that it is all post-Fountainhead—is less than definitive, Saint writes that “the book’s own evidence is, if anything, more compelling.”24 The “more compelling evidence” provided by the book is as follows:

1.         Henry Cameron (Roark’s mentor) “clearly represents” Louis Sullivan (Wright’s mentor), writes Saint. In fact, Cameron’s similarities to Sullivan (which Rand acknowledged) is evidence only of their own similarities, not those of Roark and Wright.25

2.         Roark’s employment interview with Cameron, Saint claims, “mirrors Frank Lloyd Wright’s portrayal of his early days with [Louis] Sullivan.” In fact, Roark’s dramatic encounter with Cameron has no “mirror” in Wright’s description of his first interview with Sullivan26 or in the general portrayal of his relationship to Sullivan.

3.         Roark’s buildings resemble Wright’s. It is true that Roark’s buildings were based in part on the same general architectural approach (which Wright called “organic”), but that is far from a compelling reason to hold that Roark and Wright have a connection beyond what Rand acknowledged.

4.         Wright’s Unity Temple “seems to have supplied some of the philosophy behind Roark’s Stoddard Temple.” Both, it is true, were described as temples to the spirit of man, but Rand’s atheism (inherent in Roark’s character) would logically lead him to such a building—more so than Unity Temple, which reflected the liberal religiosity of Wright. Saint might have read Wright’s statement that he had wanted to build “a temple to man,” but Saint apparently missed the conclusion of the sentence: “in which to study man himself for his God’s sake.”27 Unity Temple is perhaps non-sectarian, but it is not nonreligious. Its purpose, according to Wright, was “the service of MAN for the worship of God.”28

More important than the preceding, writes Saint, are similarities in “materials and feelings of Roark’s work: modern and functional, but natural and humane.” These similarities, obvious but quite general, help lead Saint to conclude that Rand and Wright were in “uncanny” philosophic agreement. The crux of this agreement can be found, says Saint, in “their admiration for individualism,” their contempt for the state, for mass culture, and for compromise. Both, he stresses, admired Victor Hugo, and Wright had sympathy for the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, a philosophy that, writes Saint, influenced Gail Wynand (“Roark’s alter ego”)—ignoring the fact that Wynand’s philosophy was at odds with Roark’s (and Rand’s) and led to Wynand’s destruction.29 In fact, Roark and Wright seem to Saint to be in philosophic agreement merely because both are uncompromising, self-confident, and prefer to work on their own rather than as part of a “team.” Neither has the approach to life and to architecture most dear to Saint: the “social approach,” in which individual achievement has little or no place. Saint’s antipathy toward what he considers to be individualism is reflected in both his The Image of the Architect and his subsequent book, Toward a Social Architecture.30 But, then, in his preface, Saint makes no bones about his own philosophic perspective and the “framework” of his book: Marxism. Saint quotes with endorsement Marx’s classic disavowal of free will and individualism: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness.”31 One must conclude that anyone who is at all independent is a threat to the collectivism endorsed by Saint, an ideology most eloquently expressed by Ellsworth Toohey, the arch-villain of The Fountainhead.

It is not only writers on architecture who allege a strong connection between Roark and Wright; architects themselves also weigh in. Fay Jones, a former Wright apprentice who went on to a distinguished career until his death in 2004, commented that when he was a student, “there weren’t many novels about architecture at the time, so of course I read [The Fountainhead], I also knew it was about Frank Lloyd Wright, and he was a hero of mine.”32 But the most revealing comment comes from famed architectural photographer Julius Shulman:

Don’t forget that every architect in the world read that book. It was one, first, front and center in the life of every architect who was a modern architect. And invariably, many architects would say to me, “Well, you know that Ayn Rand patterned Howard Roark after me?” Raphael Soriano said that. Richard Neutra said that. Gregory Ain. There are others. Oh, many people said that!33

Although one might approve of these architects admiring and identifying with Roark, they are, it must be said, indulging in a great deal of wishful thinking.


Let us now look at Wright’s views regarding the connection between himself and Howard Roark. Sources of information are Wright’s own writings and his conversations as reported by friends and by Ayn Rand. It should be noted at the outset that no clear view emerges: Wright either had conflicting opinions or varied what he said depending upon to whom he was speaking.34 Be that as it may, what did Wright say—or allegedly say?

Wright makes no mention of Ayn Rand in his autobiography—either the original 1932 edition or the 1943 revision. The first edition was published years before he had heard of her, before her career had started, and the revised edition was written before The Fountainhead was published. The early chapters she sent him in 1938 would not have seemed sufficiently significant, even had he been enthusiastic: his autography contains little discussion of friends and acquaintances, being focused almost entirely on his architectural career and philosophy. So, we must gather what we can from correspondence and casual remarks.

Did Wright think that he and Roark were—in any sense—one and the same?

The first clue comes in 1938, when Wright responds negatively to Rand’s written request for an interview and gives her his reaction to the first chapters of The Fountainhead: “No man named ‘Roark’ with ‘flaming red hair’ could be a genius that could lick the contracting contrafraternity.”35 The implication seems to be that Wright was having trouble distinguishing himself from Roark, thinking perhaps that the novel was about him but that Rand had made the mistake of giving her hero red hair—not the color of Wright’s hair. Architect Ely Jacques Kahn, with whom Rand did volunteer work in 1937 as research for her novel, wrote to Rand in 1946: “[Wright] admits, modestly, that he is the hero.”36 Two other supposed comments by Wright further the view that Wright thought the book was about him: Finis Farr quotes (without citation) Wright’s comment that the 1949 film was “a grossly abusive caricature of my work,”37 and Ada Louise Huxtable writes (also without citation) that “[Wright] said that Rand failed to understand him and that she never got it right. When asked if he was the model for Roark, he replied, ‘I deny the paternity and refuse to marry the mother.’”38 A variation on this theme—Wright thinking that the book was about not just his life but also his philosophy—is indicated in a 1950 newspaper column about Hollywood and architects. The author, Aline Mosby, quotes Wright: “I agree with [The Fountainhead’s] thesis, the right of an artist to his work, but I think she (Author Ayn Rand) bungled it. It’s a treacherous slant on my philosophy.”39 Perhaps the most telling—and oft-repeated—piece of evidence comes from Rand herself and demonstrates Wright’s ambiguity. At a private evening with Rand in 1944, Wright gave her some reaction to the novel, as she later related:

And then he began to say such things as, well, he doesn’t like the fact that Howard Roark was so tall. . . . I ask him why, and he very charmingly, laughing, points to his son, who is quite tall, and [to] Frank, and he says . . . “You know, well, tall men always remind me of weeds. That is, all growth.” And then, kind of catching himself, he points to the two of them and he says, “Well, I wouldn’t mean everybody.” Something like that, like a polite “present company exempted.” But the real conviction was that they grow like weeds. Now whether that was his childhood consolation to himself or what, I don’t know. And he said (this part of the conversation I remember very clearly), “I don’t think an architect, the symbol of an architect, he shouldn’t be tall, and he shouldn’t be red-headed. You know, I would see him more as a man with a mane of white hair. . . .”40 At which point his son said, “Oh, father, after all, Miss Rand isn’t writing your biography (or wasn’t writing it).” And he chuckled, he said, “Yes, that’s true.”41

Did Wright believe he was Roark? There is no unequivocal answer, but the comment to his son implies that he did at least partly believe it, but when faced with the proposition, he could not admit it, even to himself.

Ayn Rand’s own interpretation:

He apparently couldn’t—or didn’t want to—separate the abstraction, Ideal Architect, from himself. It had to be himself in the most literal sense. When he was talking about this, how he sees the ideal architect, it was completely sincere as far as I could judge. He was kind of looking off into the distance and projecting an abstraction. And what was interesting is that the abstraction was himself. Even such issues as appearance, you see, jarred. It had to be himself literally.42


Ayn Rand’s own position, stated on numerous occasions, was unequivocal. In a 1950 letter to a fan, she summed up her position:

There is no similarity between Roark and Mr. Wright as personal life, character and basic philosophy are concerned. The only parallel which may be drawn between them is purely architectural—that is, in regard to their stand on modern architecture.43

Regarding his character, she denied that it was the basis for Roark:

Absolutely not. Some of his architectural ideas, and the pattern of his career, yes, definitely, because I admire Wright very much, as an architect. But as a person, as a character, as the content of Roark’s philosophy, he is almost the opposite of Frank Lloyd Wright; no connection at all.44

Regarding Wright’s architectural approach, she said that there were similarities, but only in the most general sense, and she rejected any philosophical connection between Roark and Wright:

The Fountainhead is actually not a novel about architecture—or rather, architecture is merely the background I use for a theme which applies to all human activities and professions. [One] may be justified in seeing some parallel between Howard Roark and Frank Lloyd Wright only in a strictly architectural sense, that is, in the fact that both are great fighters for modern architecture. But if you have read Mr. Wright’s books you must know that there is no resemblance whatever between Roark’s personal character and the character of Mr. Wright, between the events of their lives, and between their fundamental philosophies of life.45

Frank Lloyd Wright has nothing to do with Roark. Because, by the time I had read even only the biography and long before I met him, I couldn’t stand the sense of life that he projected ideologically. Only in the passages when he wrote about architecture I admired him, but even then it was not Roark speaking. So that character-wise, there is absolutely nothing in common. . . .46

As architect, [Wright was a springboard for Roark] only in the theoretical way, that is, what he presented as his idea of architecture, what the issue was if you went past his terms, such as organic architecture and all the mystically undefined stuff, yes. That is what you could abstract from his books and [Louis] Sullivan’s on their basic theory of modern architecture, its justification, why it’s first-hand as against copying the buildings of the past. That was the abstraction taken from them, in effect. But only in the broadest sense. In other words, taken as a principle, which was in fact correct. Everything else I had to devise myself. So that I’ve always said there is a resemblance to Wright only in the fundamentals of modern architecture and in the sense that it’s a man alone who is fighting against a whole trend for a new architecture. Outside of that, no resemblance at all.47

And she made her position clear to Wright himself, in letters she sent to him in 1937 and in 1944:

My hero is not you. I do not intend to follow in the novel the events of your life and career. His life will not be yours, nor his work, perhaps not even his artistic ideals. But his spirit is yours—I think.48

I have taken the principle which you represent, but not the form, and I have translated it into the form of another person. I was careful not to touch upon anything personal to you as a man. I took only the essence of what constitutes a great individualist and a great artist.49

'In sum, Ayn Rand loved [Wright's] buildings and his independence in architectural design, but she strongly denied any commonality with Roark in respect to personality or philosophy.' Share on X

In sum, Ayn Rand loved his buildings and his independence in architectural design, but she strongly denied any commonality with Roark in respect to personality or philosophy. In fact, the actual psychological model for Roark was herself, as she once pointed out.50


In order to assess the conflicting claims, we must determine (a) what it was that Ayn Rand knew about Wright before and during her writing of the novel, (b) what Roark and Wright have in common, and (c) whether those common elements are significant.

What did Rand know about Wright? She had selected the philosophic theme of the novel before his autobiography had even been published: a neighbor in the apartment building in which she lived in the early 1930s had inadvertently provided the basic conflict by expressing the thinking process of the second-hander, in contrast to the man of independence.51 And, by late 1935, when the basic theme and characters were set, she had still, according to her biographical interview, only “heard of” Wright. Although the exact chronology of her reading about Wright’s life and theory is not known, in 1961 she did recall:

I had heard his name when we first lived in Hollywood, long before I had the idea for The Fountainhead and before I started working on it. I had heard that there was that kind of architect, and I had seen some photographs of his work, which I liked very much. But I actually had no particular interest in architecture as such. I was not studying the subject, and beyond a certain kind of abstract admiration for a few of his buildings which I had seen, I had no particular interest really. I read his autobiography only when I began doing the research for The Fountainhead. . . .52

It is impossible to determine how much Wright could have affected the concretes of her story. As far as can be established, her major sources were his pre-1938 writings (including his autobiography); the January 17, 1938, Time magazine cover story about Wright; and the January 1938 Architectural Forum issue devoted to Wright—all of which were among her effects at the time of her death in 1982. Whatever else she might have read, by the time she saw him speak in September 1938, she was able to recall, in 1961, that “it wasn’t anything particularly new as far as the ideas went, because I had read everything available by him. And what he was saying was the same things he had said before about architecture. . . .”53 The only major book published by Wright at that point was The Disappearing City (1932), a work dealing with his social and architectural ideas.54

As sources for information about his life, little was available. Her notes on his autobiography were made on March 13, 1936, not long after her original notes for “Second-Hand Lives.” In 1937 she read (and made notes on) Wright’s “Modern Concepts Concerning an Organic Architecture”; the first issue of his short-lived magazine, Taliesin; something titled in her notes “From the Life-Work of Frank Lloyd Wright”; and his Modern Architecture.55 Based on the titles and contents (where available), one can conclude that most of these writings—indeed most of Wright’s writings throughout his life—deal almost exclusively with his ideas on architecture and society. Her primary (if not sole) source of information about his life would, prior to her writing the novel, be his autobiography, since the Time story seems to rely on that as its primary source about Wright’s life. So, using that as a basis, what can be said about Roark and Wright—about their comparative careers, life stories, personalities, and philosophies?56

Life Stories

There is virtually nothing in common in their life stories, nor do the critics even attempt to show otherwise. To list all of the aspects not in common would clearly be impossible, but some basic dissimilarities are worth pointing out: Roark’s family life (as indicated in the novel) is almost nonexistent (with no mention of siblings or even parents), whereas Wright came from a large and close family. Roark was a loner, whereas Wright, in contrast, had many friends and even joined a fraternity at the University of Wisconsin. Roark had one romantic attachment, whom he married relatively late in life (age 38), whereas Wright was 21 at the time of his first (of three) marriages and had a scandalous affair while married. In fact, Wright’s life was full of marital, financial, and legal conflicts, whereas Roark’s personal life was relatively undramatic.

Their careers evince many similarities. Early on, both worked for famous and irascible modern innovators, though Roark’s mentor (Henry Cameron) was at the end of his own career and an outcast, whereas Wright’s mentor (Louis Sullivan) was at his height. Both found themselves battling the establishment and challenging the view that because the great achievements in architecture have already taken place, it is the architect’s job to copy the “accepted” views of the past. However, Roark struggled long for professional success, whereas Wright moved swiftly to the top, gaining important commissions when quite young (his first entry in the Storrer catalogue is at age 20, and his first independent commission came at age 26). That each was at odds with the architectural establishment is neither surprising nor significant, for that situation is inherent in being an innovator and not one peculiar to Wright or Roark or to architecture.


A reading of Wright’s 1932 autobiography reveals many personality aspects that might have appealed to Ayn Rand but also many that she would likely have found unattractive at best, some of which were more akin to Roark’s foil, the second-hander Peter Keating, than to Roark himself.

What aspects of Wright might have appealed to Rand? As revealed in his 1932 autobiography, Wright demonstrated independence as a young boy, intentionally trying food that his mother said would make him sick, on the premise of finding things out for himself. From his Uncle Jenkins, he got the idea that work is an adventure—an idea he was never to relinquish, and he began reading and thinking about “exciting lives.” He also noted what he called “style” in nature, i.e., the shape of things as it seemed to flow from the thing itself. Wright pronounced school to be boring and with no effect on him—he seemed to be someone who was intent on looking at the world through his own eyes. Traditional education, he thought, was a waste of time, especially when there was work to be done, actions to undertake. As he grew up and became an architect, he lived for his work, finding in it the greatest joy, almost to the point of obsession. This joy was accompanied by enduring confidence in himself. Writing of his work on Midway Gardens, an entertainment complex in Chicago he designed in 1913, Wright said: “Out of a good deal of experience in such matters with Adler and Sullivan . . . I had designed the [orchestra] shell, sure it would work out.”57 As a young man, Wright knew what he wanted, learned how to do it, and did it. In addition—and this would likely have endeared him to Rand—he was generally lacking in false humility58 and felt throughout his life that he was doing something important, criticizing those architects who merely “got by” by being conventional and copying the past.

On the other hand, there were many un-Roark aspects of Wright. Wright grew up in a highly religious environment—his most influential male relative, an uncle, was a preacher—and the young Wright seemed to revel in it, especially the sermons and the hymns and the “surrender to religious emotion, fervent and sincere!”59 While probably in late elementary school (Wright is rarely specific about dates), he pronounced himself permanently mortified by a failure in speech class and envious of those who were admired by girls. Even more significantly, he felt the “disgrace” of his mother’s divorce, writing about himself in the third person: “A wondering resentment grew in him. . . . He never got the heavy thing straight and just accepted it as one more handicap—grew more sensitive and shy than ever. And a little distrustful.”60

After entering the University of Wisconsin, Wright joined a fraternity, trying hard to fit in and going to concerts, fancy restaurants, and costume parties—and, in this sense, seeming much more like Peter Keating than Howard Roark. One biographer wrote of Wright in the early stage of his career:

It wasn’t only that he did good work; he was also careful to cultivate the appearance of respectability in suburban Oak Park, which was full of potential clients. Wright dined at the best restaurants, joined the right clubs, began speaking to civic organizations, wrote articles about architecture and city planning for newspapers, and patronized the theater, concert halls, and museums, where he often met the right sort of people. He kept fine horses and, when they became the mark of success, bought an expensive car.61

Financially, he was less than self-controlled, regularly living extravagantly and beyond his means. One incident must have especially dismayed Rand. In 1895, when Wright was twenty-nine years old, Nathan Moore came to him to build a home, but not like the more radical, Prairie-style Winslow home that Wright had designed two years earlier. As Wright quotes Moore: “I don’t want to go down back streets to my morning train to avoid being laughed at. I would like something like this,” at which point Moore presented Wright with some pictures of an English half-timber house.62 This recalls numerous scenes in The Fountainhead in which Roark is asked to produce copies of historical styles, but Wright responds quite differently than does Roark: he accepted the commission, something Rand wrote about in her notes on the book: “Compromise on a house for money’s sake. Subsequent shame at hearing the house praised.”63 And, although Wright characteristically expressed and often embodied great self-confidence, he also evidenced behavior that suggests his confidence might have been a disguise for lack of confidence: La Miniatura (a 1923 concrete block house in Southern California), he writes, “takes its place in the esteem and affectionate admiration of our continental judges in architecture across the sea. . . .”64 Such boastfulness, while mild in his autobiography, became something of a Wrightean trademark: he reportedly used to describe himself as “the world’s greatest architect.”65 Greatest though he likely was, one cannot imagine such boastfulness in Howard Roark, nor can one imagine Roark having the slightest temptation to publicly evaluate himself. Nor can one imagine Roark sharing the following sentiment of Wright’s regarding the attitude toward him of his young students at Taliesin: “I am fond of the flattery of young people. They indulge me, and I indulge them. It is easy for them and for me to do this.”66

In contrast, Roark, a true individualist, cared nothing about what other people thought of him, neither his professors nor the people on the street. In every fundamental sense, he was oblivious to others.

Philosophically, Wright’s autobiography is also mixed. There were certainly ideas of Wright’s to which Ayn Rand would have been sympathetic. He, as did Roark, refused to enter competitions: “Any competition will be an average upon an average by averages in behalf of the average.”67 Rand noted this, copying down all of Wright’s reasons.68 And, like Roark, he faced his clients as rational men: “But the architect with the ideal of an organic architecture at stake can talk only principle and sense. His only appeal must be made to the independent thought and judgment of his client”69—a passage that Rand also copied in her notes on the book.70 He endorses “freedom of choice” as the basis for a proper (he calls it “Democratic”) culture, with special mention of Thomas Jefferson’s principle: “The government is best Government that is least Government.”71 It was obvious even from his autobiography that Wright was a champion of architectural integrity and individuality as opposed to “fashion” and standardization, even if “modern” architecture were to become the fashion.72 Thus he attacked eclecticism and pseudo-modernism: “I have stayed ‘in line’ with the principles of an ideal I believe true to my own country and worth a man’s time for thirty-two years. While eclecticism ran from pillar to pseudo-classic to post-modernism—I stayed ‘in line’ with principle.”73

But Rand’s general assessment of his philosophic ideas, expressed in 1961, was not positive:

I could agree with, see the logic of, and admire very much, his architectural ideas, to the extent to which I could see past his formulations. And also he sometimes expressed himself very clearly on architecture, but I violently disagreed with all the rest of his ideas, particularly political and philosophical, because he was quite loosely collectivistic in some undefined sort of way. His viewpoints seem to be somewhere between collectivism and single tax.74 Besides which, enormous touches or implications of mysticism—that’s in his writing.75

There is, in fact, much in Wright’s autobiography to which she would have reacted negatively. Reminiscing on his youth, Wright tells us that “Man’s puny mind and pusillanimous aims so affront ‘Nature’ continually! He never knows what happens to him in consequence or because of his philosophy, his ‘wisdom’ which is usually by way of abstraction—something on life and seldom of life.”76 He wonders if economic growth “is the natural evil consequence of the so-called virtues which man in self-love is making for himself?”77

In addition to these veiled attacks on the egoistic ethics that Rand would champion in The Fountainhead, Wright takes swipes at the New York City that she so revered. Having just moved back to Los Angeles from Manhattan in 1943, Ayn Rand wrote to her agent about the city that had been her ideal of America and American values since her teenage years in Soviet Russia:

I miss New York, in a strange way, with a homesickness I’ve never felt before for any place on earth. I’m in love with New York, and I don’t mean I love it, but I mean I’m in love with it. . . . I feel the most unbearable, wistful, romantic tenderness for it—and for everybody in it.78

Frank Lloyd Wright had a different evaluation of Manhattan, writing of his visit in 1928:

We drove through the new Holland Tunnel, into scenes of indescribable confusion. The village streets of New York were in turmoil of reconstruction—new subways, taller buildings. But seen here in New York is the same architectural insignificance except bigger and better in every way than the insignificance we had seen all the way along [driving across country from Arizona].79

Wright’s objections to New York in that period pertained not just to New York but to cities in general, which he predicted and hoped would give way to a more suburban, even agrarian culture:

So in the streets and avenues of the great city, acceleration due to the skyscraper is similarly dangerous and to any life the city may have, even though its very own interests may fail to see it. I believe the city, as we know it today, is to die. . . . Yet our “modern” civilization may not only survive the great city but profit by it because the death of the city—it is conceivable—will be the greatest service the machine can ultimately render the human being. . . .80

The only ideal machine seen as a city will be an entirely subordinate collateral affair until it disappears. Invaded at ten o’clock, abandoned at four, for three days of the week, it will be unused the other four days of the week, which will be devoted to the more or less joyful matter of living elsewhere under conditions natural to normal manhood.81

That echoes a view about Chicago that Wright expressed to newspapers in the mid-1920s. Of the smoke and crowded conditions, Wright said: “This is a horrible way to live. You are being strangled by traffic.” When asked for a solution, Wright is reported to have replied: “Take a gigantic knife and sweep it over the Loop. Cut off every building at the seventh floor. . . . If you cut down these horrible buildings you’ll have no more traffic jams. You’ll have trees again.”82 Of the skyscrapers that were a likely inspiration for The Fountainhead (while living in Russia, Rand used to watch American movies just to see the Manhattan skyline), Wright said: “The pretended means of relief [from auto traffic] specified by the space makers for rent—the expedient skyscraper—now renders the human distress more acute.”83 However, “the tyranny of the skyscraper” (a chapter title in his Kahn lectures) was more an opposition to what Wright considered the dogmatic and impractical use of skyscrapers rather than to skyscrapers as such.84

As to Wright’s social views, they are a mixture of some sort of vague individualism and agrarian collectivism, influenced as he was by Walt Whitman (whom he was fond of quoting), Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Matthew Arnold. He aligned himself with various left-wing political causes—possibly less by conviction than for social approval. In fact, had she known that Wright had gone to Soviet Russia in 1937 as a guest of the All-Union Congress of Soviet Architects, she “never would have approached him—on principle, even though it doesn’t change the man. But the mere fact of saying anything friendly about Soviet Russia at all would have stopped me, because that’s an absolute with me.”85


If the lives, careers, personalities, and philosophies of Roark and Wright have only some general characteristics in common, what explains what they do have in common, and—more trenchantly—what explains the persistent belief in a strong bond between the two? The answer can be found in the shallowness of critical thought on the subject and the failure of critics to understand how a romantic writer constructs fictional characters. It is a failure to get beyond the concrete similarities and consider fundamentals. It is a failure to distinguish between Wright as a model for Roark (which he wasn’t) and Wright as an inspiration for Roark (which he was).

Ayn Rand did indeed make use of real people in the creation of some of her characters. The most direct example is We the Living, which, she said, is the closest she would ever come to writing an autobiography. Set in Leningrad, where she lived until coming to America, the world of We the Living is full of people and events taken from her life. The heroine, Kira Argounova, is Ayn Rand in her ideas, convictions, and values, though not in the concretes of her life. The same can be said of other main characters, whose values and personalities reflected friends and relatives.86 Even here, though, this is not a naturalistic book, in which fictional characters are little more than disguised real people; on the contrary, they are characters who embody the essence of some of the characteristics Ayn Rand observed in those around her. This is the method of characterization used by a practitioner of the Romantic school of writing.

When I create a character, I find it helpful to project him visually. This gives me a concrete focus so that the character does not float in my mind as a mere collection of abstract virtues or vices. Seeing his appearance is like having a physical body on which I can hang the abstractions.

That is how Roark was created. I did not base him on any particular human being; but the start of the character in my mind was the image of a redheaded man with long legs and gaunt cheekbones. I formed as clear an image of his figure as I could, and this became the focus for all the abstract characteristics I had to give him. I have done the same for all of my heroes.87

A number of people have told me the names of architects I never heard of, swearing that I copied Peter Keating from them. You can see why. Since I present the essence of that which creates a second-hander like Keating, they can recognize in him many men who do not have his particular appearance, mannerisms, or personal problems, but who have the same essence.88

The process by which she constructed the character of Ellsworth Toohey is instructive.

In regard to villains and characters who are neither particularly good nor bad, I find it helpful to focus on some acquaintance or public figure—not on the details of this person, but only on the essence. In the case of Toohey, I had in mind four living journalists and writers. I did not think of any one of them in specific detail, nor did I study their writings or lives. But my total impression of them gave me valuable clues to the manifestations of certain basic premises. These figures were the concretes that helped me to hold it all in my mind.89

The four writers she had in mind were Heywood Broun, Clifton Fadiman, Lewis Mumford, and Harold Laski, and it was Laski’s contribution to Toohey that she later described. At the time, Laski was a political science professor at the London School of Economics, and later he became chairman of the British Labour Party. It was in the late 1930s that some acquaintances invited her to accompany them to a lecture by Laski at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

I don’t remember a word of that first lecture, but what impressed me was that it was completely the soul of Toohey in the flesh. I had the character in the general sense, but the mannerisms, the kind of sarcasm, the kind of pseudo-intellectual snideness that he projected was invaluable. That’s one experience that interests me as creative imagination. . . . [T]hereafter, all I had to do is remember how that man lectured, and I would know how Toohey would act in any circumstances. . . . Toohey as I presented him is much larger scale than Laski, who was a cheap little snide Pink. But the essential qualities of Toohey [are] what he projected in an unmixed way.90

But what I gained from his appearance and way of speaking was the lightning-like sum of the kind of personality that certain premises would produce. Anytime I would ask myself, for instance, how Toohey would act toward his niece, or what his attitude would be toward young love, I had only to remember the image of that man on the speaker’s pulpit and I would know unerringly what his type would do.

I was using an abstraction, not a concrete. I was not copying a real-life model; from a political lecture, I had no way of knowing what the speaker’s attitude would be toward a niece or young love. He served merely to concretize and anchor certain abstractions in my mind.91

Laski was not Toohey or even a “model” for Toohey, but he helped her to develop the character of Toohey. William Randolph Hearst had a similar influence on the development of the character Gail Wynand. In the case of Frank Lloyd Wright and Howard Roark, the real person was not a model, nor did he help Ayn Rand in the same way that Laski helped her. Wright was more of an ongoing inspiration—this time in the positive sense. Roark embodies the spirit of Wright, the spirit of an independent creator who refuses to conform to the establishment. As she often said, The Fountainhead was not a novel about architecture (any more than Atlas Shrugged was a novel about railroads); but she used architecture as the background, the setting to dramatize “individualism versus collectivism, not in politics but in man’s soul.”92 In her 1945 promotional pamphlet, “A Letter to Readers of The Fountainhead,” she wrote that “when I made my first notes for The Fountainhead I knew nothing whatever about architecture, had never dealt with it in any way, and had never met an architect. I chose it deliberately as the background for my thesis.” And in a 1943 response to a fan letter, she wrote:

You ask me why I chose architecture as the profession of my hero. I chose it because it is a field of work that covers both art and a basic need of men’s survival. And because one cannot find a more eloquent symbol of man as creator than a man who is a builder.93


In her 1960–1961 biographical interviews, Ayn Rand recalled in some detail her two personal meetings with Wright. Although these are “after the fact” and do not bear on what she knew about him before and while writing The Fountainhead, these recollections do bear on what she expected of him. Had she reacted with surprise that Wright didn’t live up to Roark, we might conclude that Roark was Wright in some important way. Such, however, is not the case, as a look at their first meeting demonstrates.

In 1944 Ayn Rand arranged a meeting with Wright, through his son Lloyd, who was working in Hollywood. She wanted to meet him, she said, out of “curiosity” regarding his reason for his dismissive letter of 1938. Held at Lloyd Wright’s home in West Hollywood, the private meeting consisted of the O’Connors and the two Wrights. Frank Lloyd Wright, she recalled, was cordial and interested in her book and ideas. It appeared to her that he remembered his letter only vaguely, and he explained his negative response by saying he was afraid she merely wanted to use him for publicity. As to her opinion of him at the meeting:

Now the personality I liked very much, as far as you could see past the act. . . . He had a certain kind of act, and later, people who knew him told me that it’s an act which he puts on for the world, for people he despises. And removes it with people whom he trusts. And this was exactly my impression. That once in awhile something phony would come across, but predominantly I liked his manner very much during that interview. He didn’t have an act, in that whole meeting at his [son’s] house.94 [He was very philosophical, but] in a late nineteenth-century mystical way. It would be all in very broad generalities. . . . but it was obvious even in that interview that his approach to ideas was: the Truth, with a capital T, . . . mystical romanticism would define it best. As if life, art, truth, beauty, as if those generalities named anything. In other words, not a thinker. . . .

When he was on a subject he liked, particularly like architecture, he would never be phony about it. He would be talkative, he’d express himself very well, witty, in full focus, and the phoniness, or the touches of it conversationally would come in only in any issue which pertains to his relationship to others.

If it’s an issue of society, public reaction, there will be something phony, defensive almost, not defensive by himself, but defensive by means of offense. You know, for which he is famous. That either he would call everybody else inept architecturally, or you know, that constant insulting people before they will insult him. Only, he isn’t that strong about it in conversation, but some of that premise is present. A kind of a defensive bitterness.

Socially, he’s very much of a social metaphysician.95 He certainly is not in architecture. My summary to myself of his character is this kind of paradox: architecturally, he has the soul of a Roark, combined with the soul of a Keating in everything else. A high-class Keating, but a Keating nevertheless. He was very much in the swim, in effect, of the modern intellectual avant-garde. . . . I had a very clear feeling that to come out in favor of The Fountainhead would have caused trouble for him with all of his intellectual friends. He was not a man to do that. He couldn’t fight an intellectual battle and wouldn’t want to, probably. And I don’t mind telling you that that aspect I really despised him for.

Nor was she surprised at what she saw of Wright at their second meeting, when, in 1947, she and her husband spent a weekend as Wright’s guests at his summer home and studio in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Although she noted that, at age 78, he had more “enthusiasm for life” than did any of his twenty-year-old students, she reported that he believed the world to be controlled by nine or ten mysterious men and that he believed himself to be “the vehicle” of “a higher mystical power.” When she asked him why he would want to ascribe his achievement to another power, he answered in a way that could not be more antithetical to her philosophy: “But to be human, that’s not enough.”96


If my conclusion is correct—that Ayn Rand’s assessment of the relationship of Roark to Wright is correct—then what accounts for her attitude toward Frank Lloyd Wright, especially regarding The Fountainhead? Her attitude toward Wright was clearly much different than her attitude to any other inspiration for one of her characters: she pleaded with him for an interview, bought clothes she could ill afford when first meeting him, sent him the manuscript of her novel, was hurt when he brushed her off, was overjoyed when he wrote to her about the book.

The explanation is not difficult to find. She begins her preface to The Ominous Parallels, a book about the philosophic foundations of Nazism by her colleague Leonard Peikoff: “It gives me great pleasure to introduce the first book by an Objectivist philosopher other than myself.” And she ends her preface by paraphrasing a line from Atlas Shrugged: “It’s so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial idea which is not mine.”97 That is the key. Among the basic virtues of Objectivism is that of productiveness, and it was a virtue she personally admired, not merely espoused. Unlike so many people, she was not jealous of the accomplishments of others; to the contrary, all her life she wanted to find people she could look up to. She expressed this view in the mid-1930s, in the character of Kay Gonda in her 1934 play Ideal: “One has to find an answering voice, an answering hymn, an echo.”98 'Ayn Rand was a man-worshipper, a hero-worshipper—not in any religious sense, but in the sense of having the highest admiration for her highest values.' Share on X

Ayn Rand was a man-worshipper, a hero-worshipper—not in any religious sense, but in the sense of having the highest admiration for her highest values. Her heroic fictional characters ranged from laborer Mike Donnigan and architect Howard Roark in The Fountainhead to Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, and other industrialists in Atlas Shrugged. But her hero-worship was not confined to fictionalizations. As Kay Gonda says, “I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion.”99 Seeing such “real” men would likely have been particularly welcome to Ayn Rand in the New York of the mid-1930s, which was so left-wing that it was known as Moscow West—something she was just coming to realize with horror, having expected that no one in America would take seriously (let alone reverentially) the ideas and political system from which she had just escaped.

Thus we see admiring letters from her to such people as H. L. Mencken (“whom I admire as the greatest representative of a philosophy to which I want to dedicate my whole life”),100 Cecil B. DeMille (“[I can now] thank you and tell you that you have always been the person for whose sake I have wanted most to succeed”),101 Colin Clive (“I want to thank you for a little bit of real beauty which you have given me. . . . I am speaking of your great achievement in bringing to life a completely heroic human being”).102

Wright’s architectural integrity in always doing buildings “his way” and his monumental architectural achievements placed him in a unique position as someone to admire—not his personality, not his stated philosophy, for she had no sympathy with either. His achievements made them almost insignificant. As she said of his buildings: “I felt that here one had to be a hero and lead a heroic life.”103

Reprinted from the English Language edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” edited by Robert Mayhew and originally published by Lexington Books, an imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., Lanham, MD, USA. Copyright © by the author. Published in the English language by arrangement with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, reprinting, or on any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.

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  1. These notes are included in the “Fountainhead notebook,” which resides in the Ayn Rand Archives, Ayn Rand Papers, Box #174.
  2. For a chronological catalog of Wright’s work, see William Allin Storrer, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (Boston: MIT Press, 1978).
  3. Wright designed more than 200 more buildings before his death in 1959.
  4. See chapter 3, “Letters to Frank Lloyd Wright,” in Michael S. Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand (New York: Dutton, 1995).
  5. Brendan Gill, Many Masks (New York: Putnam, 1987), 490.
  6. Finis Farr, Frank Lloyd Wright (New York: Scribner, 1961), 255.
  7. Robert C. Twombly, Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life and His Architecture (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1979), 384.
  8. Archer Winsten, New York Post, July 9, 1949.
  9. Ada Louise Huxtable, Frank Lloyd Wright (New York: Lipper/Viking, 2004), 225. It was, of course, a housing project and not a skyscraper that Roark blew up. This error is indicative of the shoddy quality of Huxtable’s research. She also claims that the O’Connors bought the Neutra house when they decided not to purchase the house designed for them by Wright, when in fact they bought the Neutra house two years prior to the Wright design.
  10. Meryle Secrest, Frank Lloyd Wright (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), 496.
  11. John Sergeant, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses (New York: Whitney Museum of Design, 1976), 140.
  12. Newsweek, July 25, 1949.
  13. Life, September 2, 1946.
  14. Franklin Toker, Fallingwater Rising (New York: Alfred A. Knopf), 14.
  15. Toker, Fallingwater Rising, 293.
  16. Toker, Fallingwater Rising, 297.
  17. Toker, Fallingwater Rising, 298.
  18. The show actually took place in 1940. See Peter Reed and William Kaizen, ed., The Show to End All Shows: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Museum of Modern Art, 1940 (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2004).
  19. Toker, Fallingwater Rising, 293.
  20. For details of how she selected the title, see Ayn Rand, The Art of Nonfiction, ed. Robert Mayhew (New York: Plume, 2001), 168–69.
  21. Toker, Fallingwater Rising, 295.
  22. Donald Leslie Johnson, The Fountainheads: Wright, Rand, the FBI and Hollywood (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005), 45.
  23. Andrew Saint, The Image of the Architect (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 12.
  24. Saint, The Image of the Architect, 12.
  25. In a letter, Rand wrote to a fan that “you may see a resemblance between Henry Cameron and Louis Sullivan in the general aspect of a great professional tragedy.” See Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, 492.
  26. Frank Lloyd Wright, An Autobiography (New York: Longman’s Green, 1932), 89ff. Saint might very well have confused Wright’s first interview at Sullivan’s with Sullivan’s interview with his own first employer, Frank Furness. That latter interview does somewhat “mirror” Roark’s interview with Cameron. See Louis Sullivan, The Autobiography of An Idea (New York: Dover, 1956), 190ff.
  27. Wright, Autobiography, 154.
  28. Wright, Autobiography, 156.
  29. In her working notes for The Fountainhead, Rand describes Wynand as “a man who could have been,” but was instead “a slave to the masses.” In contrast, Roark was the truly independent man, “a man who is what he should be.” See David Harriman, ed., Journals of Ayn Rand (New York: Dutton, 1997), 89, 71, 89.
  30. Andrew Saint, Toward a Social Architecture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987).
  31. Saint, Toward a Social Architecture, x, quoting Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.
  32. Quoted in Johnson, The Fountainheads, 47.
  33. Unpublished oral history interview, April 20, 2000. The Ayn Rand Archives.
  34. In this regard, Ayn Rand suspected the latter, deeming him afraid to antagonize his friends in the liberal establishment, to whom Ayn Rand and her novel were anathema.
  35. Quoted in Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 111. Original letter with Wright’s handwritten revisions is in the Ayn Rand Archives.
  36. Original letter in Ayn Rand Archives.
  37. Farr, Frank Lloyd Wright, 256.
  38. Huxtable, Frank Lloyd Wright, 226.
  39. Aline Mosby, “Vulgar Hollywoodiana,” [Hollywood?] Citizen, January 24, 1950. In Warner Bros. Archives, University of Southern California.
  40. Wright indeed possessed a mane of white hair.
  41. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  42. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  43. Letter to Vera Koski, February 21, 1950. Reprinted in Berliner, Letters, 468.
  44. Robert Mayhew, ed, Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A (New York: Signet 2005), 190.
  45. Letter to Don Helgeson, February 26, 1951. Reprinted in Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 492.
  46. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  47. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  48. Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, 109.
  49. Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, 113.
  50. See Mayhew, Ayn Rand Answers, 191.
  51. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives), and Jeff Britting, Ayn Rand (New York: Overlook, 2005), 50.
  52. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  53. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  54. In her notebook of architectural research, Rand comments on this book: “No notes. More of Wright’s ideas. Some beautiful, a great many too many not clear. More about sociology than about architecture. Except architecture as a force shaping society. (Which it isn’t.)” “Fountainhead notebook,” Ayn Rand Papers, Box #174.
  55. Likely Modern Architecture: Being the Kahn Lectures for 1930, reprinted in 1987 by Southern Illinois University Press.
  56. It is difficult to place Wright in Rand’s pre-Fountainhead context, because we don’t know with certainty the state of her thinking or ideas in the 1930s; there are likely to be aspects of Wright and his ideas that would have dismayed her later in life that would not have when she was just 30 years old.
  57. Wright, Autobiography, 180. Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, for whom Wright worked for many years before opening his own practice
  58. In a 1953 interview with NBC’s Hugh Downs, Wright stated, “Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose arrogance and have seen no reason to change, even now.”
  59. Wright, Autobiography, 26.
  60. Wright, Autobiography, 50–51.
  61. Wendy B. Murphy, Frank Lloyd Wright (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1990), 34.
  62. Wright, Autobiography, 126.
  63. “Fountainhead notebook,” Ayn Rand Papers, Box #174.
  64. Wright, Autobiography, 249.
  65. A legendary anecdote from Wright’s life recounts his describing himself in a court of law as “the world’s greatest architect.” When chastised for such lack of “humility,” Wright replied that he had to describe himself that way because he was under oath.
  66. Wright, Autobiography, 236.
  67. Wright, Autobiography, 152.
  68. “Fountainhead notebook,” Ayn Rand Papers, Box #174.
  69. Wright, Autobiography, 162.
  70. Wright, Autobiography, 120.
  71. Wright, Autobiography, 170.
  72. Wright, Autobiography, 232.
  73. Wright, Autobiography, 343.
  74. “Basic to the theory [of single tax] is the belief that the land and its wealth belong to all. The most effective advocate of the single tax was Henry George, who held that economic rent tends to enrich the owner at the expense of the community and is thus the cause of poverty; he believed that by appropriating all (or nearly all) economic rent, governments could wipe out social distress and even acquire a surplus without recourse to any other taxes.” (Encyclopedia.com)
  75. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  76. Wright, Autobiography, 58.
  77. Wright, Autobiography, 93.
  78. Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 106.
  79. Wright, Autobiography, 311.
  80. Wright, Autobiography, 313–14.
  81. Wright, Autobiography, 321.
  82. In Farr, Frank Lloyd Wright, 185.
  83. Wright, Autobiography, 318.
  84. For whatever reason, of the 436 Wright buildings listed by Storrer, only two are skyscrapers, both of modest height, the fourteen-story Johnson Research Tower (1944) and the nineteen-story Price Tower (1952), and there are only about six other skyscraper designs among the hundreds of unbuilt designs, the most famous being “Illinois,” i.e., the so-called “Mile High” skyscraper for Chicago.
  85. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  86. A detailed study of these similarities can be found in Scott McConnell, “Parallel Lives,” in Robert Mayhew, ed., Essays on Ayn Rand’s “We the Living” (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004).
  87. Ayn Rand, The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, ed. Tore Boeckmann (New York: Plume, 2000), 86.
  88. Rand, Art of Fiction, 76.
  89. Rand, Art of Fiction, 86.
  90. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  91. Rand, Art of Fiction, 87.
  92. Rand, For the New Intellectual (New York: Signet, 1961), 68.
  93. Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 92.
  94. This and the next three excerpts are from the Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  95. “Social metaphysician” is the Objectivist term for someone to whom other people (rather than facts) is their basic reality. It names the essence of the “second-hander” she identifies in The Fountainhead.
  96. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  97. Ayn Rand, introduction, Leonard Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels (New York: Stein and Day, 1982).
  98. Leonard Peikoff, ed., The Early Ayn Rand (New York: Signet, 2005), 287.
  99. Peikoff, Early Ayn Rand, 322.
  100. Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 13.
  101. Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 11.
  102. Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 14.
  103. Letter from Rand to Wright. See Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 113.
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Michael S. Berliner

Michael S. Berliner, founding CEO of the Ayn Rand Institute, is the editor of Letters of Ayn Rand and senior advisor to the Ayn Rand Archives.

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