Ayn Rand (born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum; February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was an American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter.
Ayn is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful in America, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead.
In 1957, she published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting a minarchist limited government and laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed to be the only social system that protected individual rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for some Aristotelians and classical liberals.
Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews, and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.