After Ayn Rand finished writing The Fountainhead, the manuscript was rejected by twelve publishers who claimed, as Laurence Miller notes in an article on the author for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, it was "commercially unsuitable because it was too politically and philosophically controversial, too intellectual, too improbable a story, too long, poorly written, and dull, and because it employed an unsympathetic hero." After Rand submitted it to Bobbs-Merrill, editor Archie Ogden recommended that the book be published. When his superiors disagreed, Ogden countered, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." This was enough to convince them to publish the novel in 1943.
While initial reviews were mixed, the public's approval grew each year until 1945, when it stayed on the best-seller list for twenty-six weeks. Sales are currently near three million copies. Readers responded not only to the story of brilliant architect Howard Roark's struggle to gain success in New York City; they also became intrigued with the philosophy Rand outlined through the characters and their interactions. Many readers became devoted followers of objectivism, Rand's vision of how to achieve an ideal self as expressed in the novel. Nathaniel Branden, who would become her protégé, claimed, as quoted by Miller, that the novel gave him "the sense of a door opening, intellectually, spiritually, psychologically—a passageway into another dimension, like a summons from the future." Miller notes that The Fountainhead helped to ensure Rand "a place as one of the most controversial, colorful, and influential writers of the twentieth century."