Ayn Rand Additional Biography


Rand is an American phenomenon. Her few literary works have endured and remained influential. These works, despite their flaws, have much to say about individualism, the role of government in personal and economic life, and artistic independence. Rand takes her place among those American writers who “march to a different drummer.”


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Ayn Rand was born Alisa (Alice) Zinovievna Rosenbaum, the eldest of three children, into a Russian Jewish middle-class family in czarist Russia. When her father’s pharmacy was nationalized following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Rand, who had been writing stories since she was nine, found a calling: She turned against collectivism, and she elevated individualism—personal, economic, political, and moral—into a philosophy that eventually attracted a large, occasionally distinguished, following. Early in her career she declared herself to be an atheist.

At the University of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), Rand studied philosophy, English, and history, graduating with highest honors in history in 1924. By then the works of French writers Victor Hugo and Edmond Rostand, and of Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, had inspired her passion for the heroic and the ideal. Fyodor Dostoevski and Friedrich Nietzsche also left their mark.

Unhappy because the Soviet system was not moving in the direction of her republican ideals and because she had a dead-end job, Rand accepted an invitation from relatives and went to Chicago in 1926. It was while in the United States that she restyled herself Ayn Rand, and within a few months moved to Hollywood, California.

Working as a film extra, a file clerk, and a waiter and doing other odd jobs from 1926 to 1934, Rand perfected her language skills and became a screenwriter at various motion-picture...

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(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

0111207240-Rand.jpg Ayn Rand (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

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Rand advocated an ethics of rational self-interest. The hero of her best-selling Atlas Shrugged states, “I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” The moral purpose of anyone’s life is his or her own happiness; he or she exists to serve no other individual or group. The moral standard by which one guides one’s actions is set by the objective requirements of human life. Thus, Rand rejected two common theses in ethical theory: that selfless sacrifice is moral and that acting in one’s self-interest means doing whatever one feels like. She rejected as “moral cannibalism” any form of...

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(Masterpieces of Women's Literature, Critical Edition)

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Ayn Rand was graduated from the University of Leningrad in 1924 but, unable to adjust to Communism, emigrated to the United States in 1926, becoming a naturalized citizen. She became an outspoken opponent of all forms of collectivism, touted capitalism, and believed in the victory of individualism over all forms of totalitarian government. Her philosophy is outlined in The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism (1964). A screenwriter in Hollywood until 1949, Rand became a best-selling novelist with The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957).


Baker, James T. Ayn Rand. Boston: Twayne, 1987. An...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Alisa (Alice) Rosenbaum was born into a middle-class Russian Jewish family. When her father’s pharmacy was nationalized following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Alisa, who had been writing stories since she was nine, acquired a subject: She turned against collectivism and elevated individualism—personal, moral, economic, political—into a philosophy which eventually attracted a large, occasionally distinguished, following.{$S[A]Rosenbaum, Alisa;Rand, Ayn}

Alisa accepted an invitation from relatives in Chicago and came to the United States in early 1926. She had graduated from the University of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) with a major in history, but her interests already encompassed several other...

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Ayn Rand, a.k.a. Alice Rosenbaum, was born on February 2, 1905, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her family was relatively wealthy; Rand's father...

(The entire section is 537 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Ayn Rand was born Alissa Rosenbaum, the child of Zinovy and Anna Rosenbaum, in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. From an early age Rand decided to become a writer. Her early influences included adventure fiction and American movies. The Russian Revolution of 1917 caused her father, a successful chemist, to lose much of his wealth. Communism’s intellectual constraints gave Rand a loathing of Communism and all related doctrines. Nevertheless, Rand completed her schooling in Russia, majoring in history at the University of Petrograd, and then took courses at the State Institute of Cinematic Arts. Her knowledge of history and her background in the cinema would serve her well as a writer.

Rand eventually left...

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Ayn Rand Published by Gale Cengage

Ayn Rand was born Alisa Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905 to Fronz (a chemist) and Anna. Alisa taught herself to read...

(The entire section is 448 words.)