Ayn Rand, nee Alice Rosenbaum, was born February 2, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia, to a nonobservant Jewish family. She became an atheist as a teenager. Immigrating to the United States in 1921, she renamed herself Ayn (rhymes with „mine“) after a Finnish woman; the „Rand“ was inspired by her Remington-Rand typewriter. She worked for Hollywood studios intermittently for 20 years, starting as an extra for Cecil B. DeMille and progressing to screenwriter. She married actor Frank O’Connor in „a ‚proper‘ nonreligious ceremony in a judge’s chambers.“
Rand’s first novel We the Living (1936) was not initially successful. The Fountainhead (1943) secured her place in literature, followed by Atlas Shrugged (1957). Rand’s novels promote her philosophy of Objectivism, promulgated in John Galt’s famous speech from Atlas Shrugged. Galt termed faith „a short-circuit destroying the mind.“ Rand’s lecture, „Faith and Force: the Destroyers of the Modern World,“ was delivered at Yale University in 1960. The enigmatic, controversial and charismatic Rand died in 1982.
“Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life as of no value.”
— Ayn Rand, character John Galt in Atlas Shrugged (1957)