Ayn Rand Facts and History

Ayn RandAyn Rand was best known as an author as well as a philosopher. She was born on February 2, 1905 as Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum to Jewish-Russian parents in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her father, Zinovy Rosenbaum, was a prominent pharmacist and businessman, raising Ayn and her two younger sisters in a wealthy lifestyle, one that was looked down upon by the Revolutionary currents taking place at the time. Since Ayn was a young child, she had been interested in literature, writing screenplays and novels since ages eight and ten, respectively. She and her best friend, Olga, were also extremely interested in politics.
During Lenin’s revolution, Ayn and her family fled to the peninsula of Crimea, which was held by the Russian White Army at the time, the opposing force to the Communist Red Army. It would be while she was in high school in Crimea where she would make her stand as an atheist, believing in reason. Later, her and her family relocated back to Petrograd (changed from St. Petersburg in 1914, then changed to Leningrad in 1924), where she attended college. Life was much different at her second stay in Petrograd, going from a life of fortune to famine, facing starvation on occasions. However, Ayn and her family persevered, and she graduated from Petrograd State University in 1924.
In 1925, Ayn obtained a visa to the United States to visit family. Upon arriving in New York, she had made up her mind that she would live in the United States. She initially lived in Chicago with relatives, one owning a movie theater. Later on, she went on her way towards Hollywood, California. Although unsuccessful at first, she got her chance to play as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille’s movie ‘King of Kings,’ where she met her future husband, Frank O’Connor, an actor on the set. Subsequently, she married him, allowing her to stay in the United States, as her visa was on the verge of expiration.
In the 1930’s, Ayn enjoyed minor success as she wrote Broadway plays, such as ‘Night of January 16,’ showing in Hollywood in 1934 and Broadway the following year. Her first published novel was ‘We the Living.’ Published in 1936, the book was set in the Soviet Union, and focused on the issues between the individual Russian and the Soviet State. This book, as Ayn put it, “is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write. It is not an autobiography in the literal, but only in the intellectual sense. The plot is invented, the background is not…” It was not an immediate success in the United States, but sold well in Europe. In the latter-half of the 1950’s, she revised the book, and since then it has sold over three million copies.
In 1943, Ayn published ‘The Fountainhead,’ her first majorly successful book. During this time period, Ayn, along with her husband, had become politically active. Books such as ‘The Fountainhead,’ and later, in 1957, ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ Ayn shared her political and philosophical output on life and its contents, which later became known as Objectivism. After ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ she turned to writing non-fiction essays (as she did in her scholarly years) to help share Objectivism. She outlived her husband Frank, whom died in 1979, and lived to be 77, passing away on March 7, 1982. Since then, Ayn and her works have been a topic of debate, and in recent years have made a re-emergence in universities and colleges.