Ayn Rand (pronounced /ˈaɪn ˈrænd/; born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum; also known as Ann O'Connor February 2 1905 – March 6, 1982), was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand migrated to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. She first achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. Over a decade later, she published her magnum opus, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged, in 1957.
Rand's political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individual rights (including property rights) and laissez-faire capitalism, enforced by a constitutionally limited government. She was a fierce opponent of all forms of collectivism and statism, including fascism, communism, socialism, and the welfare state, and promoted ethical egoism while rejecting the ethic of altruism. She considered reason to be the only means of acquiring knowledge and its advocacy the most important aspect of her philosophy, stating, "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows."
Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум) was born on February 2, 1905, to a bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews. Her younger sisters were Natasha and Nora. Rand's father was educated at Warsaw University as a chemist and became a successful pharmacist, eventually owning his own pharmacy and the building in which it was located. His success allowed the family to employ a cook, maid, nurse, and governess. Growing up, she was praised by adults for her intelligence, but her intensity and social awkwardness meant she rarely had friends her own age. On one occasion, when a school assignment called for her to write about the joys of childhood, she instead wrote what she later recalled as "a scathing denunciation" of childhood as inferior to the intellectual condition of adults.