First British Edition of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead; Signed by Her
Item Number: 63003
London: Cassell, 1947.
First British edition of Rands’s breakthrough work and her first major literary success. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by Ayn Rand on the front free endpaper. Fine in a near fine dust jacket with some light rubbing and wear. Rare and desirable signed.
Although Rand was a previously published novelist and had a successful Broadway play, she faced difficulty in finding a publisher she thought right for The Fountainhead. She let Macmillian Publishing go when they rejected her demand for better publicity (Branden, 1986), and when her agent criticized the novel, she fired him and handled submissions herself (Burns, 2009). After sifting through eleven more publishers, Rand finally released The Fountainhead with Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1943. The reception was instant, and The Fountainhead became a bestseller in two years. The protagonist, Howard Roark, whose character was thought to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a young architect fighting against convention. Cited by numerous architects as an inspiration, Ayn Rand said the theme of the book was "individualism versus collectivism, not within politics but within a man's soul." Rand chose architecture as the analogy of her heady themes because of the context of the ascent of modern architecture. It provided an appropriate mode to make relevant her beliefs that the individual is of supreme value, the "fountainhead" of creativity, and that selfishness, properly understood as ethical egoism, is a virtue. Some critics consider The Fountainhead to be Rand's best novel (Merill, 1991). Indeed, philosopher Mark Kingwell described it as "Rand's best work" (Kingwell, 2006). The novel has been adapted into other media several times. An illustrated version was syndicated in newspapers in 1945. Warner Bros. produced a film version in 1949; Rand wrote the screenplay, and Gary Cooper played Roark. Critics panned the film, which did not recoup its budget; several directors and writers have considered doing a new film adaptation. In 2014, Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove created a stage adaptation.