Letter 055, pg. 1
To Ann Watkins
Ann Watkins (1886–1967) was AR’s literary agent beginning in 1935 until AR switched most of her work to Curtis Brown, Ltd. in the mid-1940s. The Watkins agency still exists under the name Watkins/Loomis. This letter was published only in the Winter 2017–18 issue of The Objective Standard.
349 East 49th Street
New York City
May 17, 1941
Miss Ann Watkins
77 Park Avenue
New York City
This is in answer to your letter of May 13th. I am afraid that our present situation is the kind of thing that happens when one allows others to step into a deal of which they are not an essential part. I find it simply impossible to deal with Miss Sorsby—and so we must clarify our position personally between you and me.
First, let me re-state in writing our conversation and agreement made verbally on April 21st. You remember that I asked you then for a written confirmation and you assured me that it was not necessary between us, since both of us would live up to our word. I still believe this of both of us. So I record our conversation to keep our agreement completely clear.
It was not, as you state in your letter, my request that you discontinue to represent me in the placing of my play. I intended to do that, of course, but when I came into your office—it was you who started the conversation by saying that you thought it would be best if I handled the play myself. So, it would be fairer to say that we terminated our deal by mutual agreement—and not by a one-sided desire on your part or mine, with the first suggestion coming from you. Then you said that you wished nothing but to help me sell this play and that anything I did to sell it would be most welcome to you; that you had no desire to make any difficulties or claims; in short, that you were turning the play over to me completely. Then, it was I who mentioned the Paramount deal and said that should my new agent find a producer who wished to use Paramount backing and should Paramount give him the partial backing you said they had promised—my new agent would give you 2½ per cent of the agency commission. I made this offer myself, voluntarily, without your request and not by way of bargaining. I felt that if the Paramount deal was a concrete, definite deal negotiated by you and if it helped the sale of the play to a producer—the new agent should give you a share, although, of course, you know that an author pays a commission only on the sale of a play to a producer, not on the finding of a backer; an author has nothing to do with the financial backing of a play and no commission for financing is ever paid to an author. You did not ask me for this offer—I made it myself. And you accepted. You said that you had always found me fair and honest in financial matters—and such was our agreement on the play.
Now, as to my novel [The Fountainhead], I had no desire or intention to take that