Ayn Rand

Writer / Philosopher

Born: 2 February 1905
Died: 6 March 1982
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Best known as:

The author of The Fountainhead and leader of Objectivism movement

Name at birth: Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum

Ayn Rand is the writer and philosopher known for what came to be called Objectivism: the philosophy that the individual should be preeminent over the state and collective action, and that enlightened selfishness and capitalism are the purest forms of individual freedom. Born and educated in Russia, Ayn Rand moved to the United States in 1926, moving to Hollywood to begin a career as a screenwriter. In 1932 she sold her first screenplay, but soon turned to writing novels. Her novel The Fountainhead was published in 1943 and became her best-known novel. The story of Howard Roark, a principled architect whose brilliant designs and pure ideals were sneered at and blocked by the cultural elites, it was an early template of the Objectivist ideal. Still occasionally working as a screenwriter, Rand moved to New York City in 1951 and published Atlas Shrugged in 1957. That book introduced John Galt, a genius who organizes a strike of great creative thinkers and capitalists to "stop the motor of the world" and prove his point that collectivism is corrupt.  Rand's ideas were both popular and controversial in an era when communism was still a major force in world affairs. In the early 21st century she was in the news again, as so-called Tea Party candidates suggested that capitalists and industrial leaders should "go Galt" and leave liberals and collectivists to suffer.

Extra credit:

Alan Greenspan, the head of the Federal Reserve from 1987-2006, was a friend and avowed admirer of Ayn Rand... The 19xx movie version of The Fountainhead starred Gary Cooper as Howard Roark.

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