AYN RAND was born Alyssa (Alissa) Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. In Russia, the Rosenbaum family was well-to-do, and Alyssa had a comfortable childhood and an excellent education. When she was thirteen, the Russian Revolution broke out and her father's business was nationalized. The Revolution's impact on her family contributed to her life-long hatred of communism or any other collectivist ideology. In 1921, Rand began to study philosophy in Leningrad.After leaving the university, she received an invitation to visit from relatives in the United States, and when her passport visa was actually granted, she left Russia for good. En route from Russia to the United States, she changed her name to Ayn (rhymes with "mine") Rand and eventually made her way from Berlin, to New York, to Chicago, and finally, to Hollywood.
In Hollywood, she worked for Cecil B. DeMille's studio as a junior screenwriter and occasionally as an extra in crowd scenes. In 1929 she married an American, Frank O'Connor, and two years later she became an American citizen. Although she sold a screenplay, " Red Pawn," in 1932, she did not publish her first novel until 1936, by which time she and O'Connor were living in New York City.She did, however, write a successful dramatic script that, under the title " January the 16th," became a Broadway hit.
Her first novel, We the Living ( 1936), received mixed reviews, and sales were mediocre. Nevertheless, it provided the impetus for Rand to begin work on one of her most well-known novels, The Fountainhead ( 1943). This novel illustrates one of Rand's most central beliefs: the superiority of the individual over the collective, an idea that she also expresses in one of her shortest novels, Anthem ( 1938, in Britain). After writing the screenplay for the movie version of The Fountainhead (starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal), Rand turned again to fiction and began work on Atlas Shrugged ( 1957). The novel sold extraordinarily well despite negative reviews but proved to be Rand's last work of fiction. She abandoned writing fiction to devote herself to philosophy.
Rand's philosophy, called objectivism, has been described as antialtruist, procapitalist, anticollectivist, and proindividualist. Its teachings were spread through the Objectivist Newsletter and through Rand's own speaking engagements, interviews, and essays. To some degree, Rand's ideas were publicized by Nathaniel Branden, whom Rand had met in 1950, and who for almost ten years was Rand's intel