A woman who created a new morality
Ayn Rand is one of America's most famous writers, the author of the world's bestsellers Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, a philosopher and playwright. She founded her own philosophy of "Objectivism." Ayn Rand's ideas have not lost their relevance in 70 years and are gaining more and more fans worldwide.
Childhood destroyed by the Bolshevik revolution.
Ayn Rand (real name Alisa Zynoviyivna Rozenbaum) was born on February 2nd, 1905, in St. Petersburg to a wealthy Jewish family. Her father, Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum, was the owner of a pharmacy.
After the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks confiscated Zinovy Rosenbaum's property, and in 1918 the family was forced to move to Crimea, which was initially controlled by the White Army. There, Alice taught soldiers to read and write.
After graduating from school in 1921, Alice and her family returned to Petrograd (renamed St. Petersburg by the Bolsheviks). The family robbed by the Bolsheviks found themselves in difficult conditions, even starving.
In 1921, at the age of 16, Alice began studying at the Department of Social Pedagogy at Petrograd State University. During her student years, she became acquainted with the works of Aristotle, which influenced her future philosophy. After graduating from university in 1924, Alice entered the State Institute of Cinematography, hoping to become a screenwriter, and also worked as a tour guide.
Escape from the USSR to the United States
In late 1925, Alice received a study visa to the United States to visit relatives in Chicago. At the American consulate in Latvia, she guaranteed that she would return to the Soviet Union because she allegedly had a lover in Leningrad (who did not really exist). In 1926, she boarded a train to Berlin with the intention of never returning.
Alice arrived in New York in February 1926 and soon changed her name to Ayn Rand. She intended to become a screenwriter and lived for several months with her relatives, one of whom owned a movie theater and allowed her to watch dozens of movies for free. She then went to Hollywood, California.
The first steps in Hollywood
On the second day of Rand's stay in Hollywood, the famous director Cecil Blount De Mill hired her as a statistician for the film "King of Kings" and later – as a junior screenwriter. While working on the film, she met a young actor Frank O'Connor, with whom she fell in love at first sight. In 1929, they married.
In 1931, Ayn Rand became a US citizen. She tried several times to bring her parents and two sisters to her home, but they were unable to obtain an emigration permit.
Ayn Rand first became a screenwriter in 1932 when she sold the screenplay for Red Pawn to Universal Studios. However, the film was never made, probably because of its anti-Soviet theme, which was then unpopular in Hollywood.
The beginning of a writing career
In 1934, Ayn Rand wrote the play Night of January 16th. It was first staged in Hollywood and then on Broadway in 1935. Every night a jury was chosen from the audience, which voted to select the end of the play. One of the goals of Night of January 16th was to spread the idea of individualism instead of social conformism.
In 1936, Ayn Rand wrote a semi-biographical novel, We Are Alive, which was the writer's first speech against communism.
«We the Living is not a novel about "Soviet Russia." It is a novel about Man against the State. Its basic theme is the sanctity of human life - using the word sanctity not in a mystical sense, but in the sense of "supreme value."» -
We the Living, Foreword
The novel was purchased and published by Macmillan. However, the book was not successful, and Ayn Rand received only $ 100 from its sales. The work went out of print for the next 23 years...
As a writer, Ayn Rand became widely known in 1943 with the publication of the novel "The Fountainhead." It took her seven years to write The Fountainhead.
Finding a publisher for the book was as difficult as finding customers for the protagonist, architect Howard Roark. Ayn Rand's agent resigned in despair after 12 rejections from major publishers. The manuscript was eventually accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company after its editor threatened to resign if the publisher did not publish it.
The Fountainhead brought Ayn Rand fame and financial security. In 1943, she sold the rights to the movie version of the novel to "Warner Bros.."
While working in Hollywood, Rand was actively involved in spreading ideas about the free market and anti-communist activities.
In 1940, during the presidential election, she gained her first and last political experience. Rand campaigned for Republican candidate Wendell Wilkie, who eventually lost to Franklin Roosevelt. During the election campaign, Rand spoke with right-wing activists and intellectuals.
In 1947, as a volunteer witness, the writer testified before the Commission to Investigate Anti-American Activities connected with the film "Song of Russia," which promoted communism.
Ayn Rand began work on her magnum opus in 1946. The idea for the novel came to her during a telephone conversation with a friend who said that Rand was obliged to write works of art about her philosophy to her readers. To which the writer replied: "What if I went on strike? What if all the creative minds of the world went on strike?" The philosopher aimed to write a novel that will show how much the world needs creators and what will happen without them.
By September 1951, Ayn Rand had written 21 chapters of the novel and worked on the final chapters. She read excerpts to a group of proxies who were going to discuss philosophy at her home. The group included economist, future head of the US Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, a young psychology student Nathaniel Branden and his wife Barbara, and Barbara's cousin Leonard Peikoff.
In 1953, Ayn Rand began writing a key chapter in the novel, John Golt's speech. The writer worked on it for two years.
"Atlas Shrugged" was published in 1957 by "Random House" with a circulation of 100,000 copies. Despite the significant number of negative reviews, the book became an international bestseller.
This novel became the latest completed work of art by Ayn Rand. After its publication, she focused on philosophical works on the Objectivism.
Popularization of the philosophy of "life on Earth"
In the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her philosophical ideas, including writing scientific papers. Among her well-known non-fiction works are For the New Intellectual (1961), The Virtue of Selfishness (1964), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), and The Romantic Manifesto (1969).
The philosopher also wrote for three periodicals - "The Objectivist Newsletter" and "The Objectivist."
Ayn Rand has lectured at the universities of Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Harvard, and Massachusetts.
In 1974, Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer. Although she recovered, she no longer had the strength to undertake large-scale writing projects. One of her latest projects was a television adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, which she did not complete.
Ayn Rand died of heart failure in New York City on March 6th, 1982. She is buried in Kensicon Cemetery with her husband, Frank O'Connor.
— What held you through it?
— The knowledge that my life is the highest value, too high to give up without a fight.
Ayn Rand, Atlas shrugged