Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a popular and controversial American philosopher and novelist, most famous for her philosophy of Objectivism.
She was born Alyssa (or Alice) Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. She studied philosophy and history at the University of Petrograd. In 1925, she was permitted by the Soviet government to leave the USSR briefly to visit her relatives in America. Although she was only allowed a brief visit, she was resolute never to return to Russia. When she arrived in America, at the age of 21, she stayed with relatives in Chicago for 6 months before moving to Hollywood to become a screenwriter. She changed her name to Ayn Rand, suspecting that, if her anti-socialist views became famous in America, her family back in Russia might be persecuted by the Soviet government. She met an actor, Frank O'Connor, by tripping him on purpose, and they married in 1929.
Initially, Rand struggled in Hollywood, and was forced to take odd jobs to pay her rent. Her first success came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn in 1932 to Universal Studios. Rand released The Night of January 16th, a play, in 1934, and published two commercially unsuccessful novels, We The Living (1936), and Anthem (1938).
Rand's first major success came with the best-selling novel, The Fountainhead (1943).
In 1951 Rand met psychology student Nathaniel Branden, who became Rand's first follower, and later a romantic partner, with the acceptance of their respective spouses.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through non-fiction works, including For the New Intellectual, The Virtue of Selfishness, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Rand broke with Branden in 1968.
She died March 6, 1982.