The bestselling Russian-born American author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand was also a playwright, screenwriter and philosopher in addition to being a novelist. She is also directly associated with the development of the philosophical system she called, “Objectivism”.
Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 2, 1905. A brilliant child, by the age of six, Rand had taught herself to read. She held a keen interest in literature and by the time she was nine, Ayn Rand had already decided on becoming a fiction writer. Very much inspired by the works of Victor Hugo, Rand liked to imagine herself as a European writer. She discarded the mysticism and collectivism cultures of Russia in her writings. During her high school years, Ayn Rand was a supporter of the Kerensky Revolution. However, she condemned the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. To escape the fights and riots, Rand’s family moved to Crimea, where she completed high school. Here, Rand was introduced to American history for the first time in the last year of high school. Impressed by what she studied, Rand immediately took America as a model nation of freedom. When her father’s pharmacy was confiscated after the communist victory, Rand’s family suffered a difficult period of poverty and starvation.
Upon return from Crimea, Ayn Rand began studying courses on history and philosophy at the University of Petrograd. She graduated in 1924. The collapse of free inquiry and takeover of the university by communist thugs affected Rand’s life as much as it did everybody else’s. The only pleasure in Rand’s life during this era of depression was to watch Viennese operas and Western films and dramas. Pursuing her interests, in 1924 Rand gained admission to the State Institute for Cinema Arts where she studied screenwriting. When she was granted permission in 1925 to travel to the United States to visit relatives on a short trip, Rand took it as an opportunity not to be missed and vowed never to return. After spending six months in Chicago with her relatives, Rand obtained an extension to her visa, after which she went to Hollywood to pursue a career in screenwriting. In 1929, Rand married actor Frank O’Connor and remained his wife for fifty years until his death.
After several years and a good deal of struggle in Hollywood, Ayn Rand was finally able to sell her first screenplay, Red Pawn to Universal Pictures in 1932. This was followed by Night of January 16th, a play that was produced in both Hollywood and Broadway. Rand completed her first novel, We the Living in 1934, but was unable to convince any publishers to publish it until 1936.
In 1935, Ayn Rand began writing her most famous novel, The Fountainhead. Ironically, the novel was rejected by 12 publishers before finally being accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. In this novel, Rand introduced for the first time the character of an ideal hero, the perfect man. The novel became a bestseller following its publication in 1943. Rand returned to Hollywood for a brief period to write the screenplay of The Fountainhead, after which she dedicated herself completely to writing her second major novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957). In this novel, Rand stressed upon her own unique philosophy of Objectivism.
After the success of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand spend her time lecturing and writing periodicals on Objectivism, which she described as the philosophy for living on earth. The material she wrote equals to six books about Objectivism and its application to culture. Leaving her philosophy behind for many to follow even now, Ayn Rand died in her New York apartment on March 6, 1982. None of Ayn Rand’s books have ever gone out of publication. They are still printed year after year for a growing number of admirers of her works.