Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Typewriter: Remington Rand Portable
Writer and philosopher, born in St Petersburg, Russia. As an adolescent she saw the negative side of the Bolshevik Revolution. After graduating from the University of Petrograd (1924), she went to the USA (1926), which she regarded as the ‘country of the individual’, becoming a citizen in 1931. Starting as a screenwriter and dramatist, she first won fame for her novel, The Fountainhead (1943), which was also filmed. Atlas Shrugged (1957), a novel in form, incorporated her philosophy of ‘Objectivism’, which stresses objective reality, reason, self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism. She advanced her ideas in a series of books including The Virtue of Selfishness (1957) and through an institute run by a follower, Nathaniel Brandon. Outspoken and assertive to the end, she named Leonard Peikoff her ‘intellectual heir’.
TRIVIA: the old story, apparently false, is that she named herself after her typewriter.
Biographers at the Ayn Rand Institute knew that Ayn Rand had told The New York Evening Post in 1936 that “Rand in an abbreviation of my Russian surname.” (A profile of Miss Rand in the Saturday Evening Post of November 11, 1961 would state that Rand was an Americanization of Rand’s original surname.) However, because the pronunciations of the two names were so unlike one another, the scholars at ARI were perplexed. By covering alphabetic letters, Michael Berliner saw that “ayn” was spelled in the last three characters. Richard Ralston saw that by combining the first letter of the Cyrillic with the last three, there was a phonetic approximation of “Rand” (“Rayn”).