02 feb 1905
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher, born in St Petersburg in 1905. She was born to Jewish parents and educated alongside her two sisters. She began to engage in political debates and to write stories and plays from a very early age, completing her first screenplay aged just 8 years old.
The October Revolution ended her father’s career as a pharmacist when his pharmacy was taken away from him. The family were forced to flee to the Crimean Peninsula during the civil war. After the war, universities in Russia began to accept female students, and Rand enrolled in a history course there when she was 16. She never completed her studies there, as she was considered to be from a ‘bourgeois’ family and was therefore expelled from the university during one of the infamous purges.
Ayn Rand was 20 when she moved to the United States. She initial went over to visit family, but was so struck with the New York skyline and the enticement of Hollywood that she stayed put, becoming an American citizen in 1931. She sold her first screenplay to Universal Studios in 1932.
Ayn Rand died in 1982 and is today most remembered for her works as a novelist. She is the author of Atlas Shrugged, a genre-spanning work of well over 1000 pages and detailing the lives of various characters living in a dystopian version of the United States. The title of the novel comes from the name of the Greek Titan who is often portrayed as having the whole world balanced on his shoulders. The title is a nod to the chaos that would ensue if Atlas were to shrug and to unbalance the whole world.