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 to become 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 collectivist 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 their 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 the 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 watching 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.