Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher.
She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. She developed a philosophical system she called Objectivism.
Ayn Rand Early Life
Rand was born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905, to a Russian-Jewish bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg.
She was the oldest of three daughters of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and his wife, Anna Borisovna (née Kaplan).
In 1917, she and her family witnessed the Russian Revolution as the Communist Party took over the government. The financial condition of the family became very low.
In 1921, when she was 16 years old, she enrolled at Petrograd State University.
During her second year, university expelled her as anti-proletariat. However after foreign governments protest, university reinstated her.
After Ayn Rand finished her degree, she enrolled at the State Technicum for Screen Arts, where she studied screenwriting.
At this point, Rosenbaum (Rand) knew that her philosophy did not fit with the Communist agenda, and she probably realised that she needed to leave Russia.
Ayn Rand Arrival in United States
In January 1926, she got a passport to visit her relatives for a short time in Chicago. But she never returned and, soon after, her arrival in Chicago, Ayn left for Hollywood, hoping to get a job as a screenwriter.
Around this time, she changed her name. In addition to the usual reasons that people change their names upon entering Hollywood.
Rand may have intended to protect her relatives in Russia, who could be punished for the ideas and arguments she was planning to express through films.
Film director, Cecil B. DeMille gave her a car ride and a job as a movie extra. While this account is probably at least partially untrue, Rand did work as an extra in several of DeMille’s films.
In fact, it was on the set of DeMille’s film, King of Kings that she met her future husband, actor Frank O’Connor.
Ayn Rand Writing Career
Universal Studios launched Rand’s career as a writer in 1932, after she sold them a screenplay.
While the film was never produced, she then wrote the play, The Night of January 16th, which was produced on Broadway in 1934.
Her first novel, We the Living (1936), portrays life in post-communist Russia. This novel was followed by Anthem (1938), a science fiction novel about a future dystopia where the world has been corrupted by communism.
Rand did not enjoy real success until the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943. In 1957, Rand published her last novel Atlas Shrugged, which she considered her as a masterpiece.
Rand also proposed a theory of aesthetics which she publicised in a series of essays published between 1965 and 1971.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her nonfiction works and by giving talks to students at institutions such as Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ayn Rand Personal Life
In 1958, a young psychology student named Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden) and his wife Barbara and Barbara’s cousin Leonard Peikoff.
Initially the group was an informal gathering of friends who met with Rand on weekends at her apartment to discuss philosophy.
She later began allowing them to read the drafts of her new novel, Atlas Shrugged. In 1954 Rand’s close relationship with the younger Nathaniel Branden turned into a romantic affair, with the consent of their spouses.
In 1964, Nathaniel Branden began an affair with the young actress Patrecia Scott, whom he later married.
Nathaniel and Barbara Branden kept the affair hidden from Rand. When she learned of it in 1968, though her romantic relationship with Branden had already ended, Rand terminated her relationship with both Brandens.
Ayn Rand Death
Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1974 after decades of heavy smoking. Rand died of heart failure on March 6, 1982, at her home in New York City. His family interred her in the Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York.
Her prominent followers attended Rand’s funeral, including Alan Greenspan. Her follower placed a 6-foot (1.8 m) floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign on her casket. In her will, Rand named Leonard Peikoff to inherit her estate.