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A similar version of this piece was originally published on LibertyCon Europe’s blog.

Today marks 115 years since the birth of Ayn Rand, a prominent Russian-American novelist and philosopher who promoted Objectivism, her philosophical system, through many works of both fiction and nonfiction. Some of her most notable works include Anthem (1938/1946), The Fountainhead (1943), Atlas Shrugged (1957), and The Virtue of Selfishness (1964).

Rand’s life story is particularly fascinating, with many details that could potentially surprise even those familiar with her work.

Here are five facts you may not have known about one of the most influential pro-liberty thinkers of the 20th century:

1. Ayn Rand was originally called Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, and was born on February 2, 1905, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She adopted the name Ayn Rand some time in the mid-1920s, around the time she left the Soviet Union. There are various theories surrounding the significance of her chosen name.

2. In 1917, during the October Revolution, her father’s business was seized and nationalized, overseen by armed soldiers. This led the family to flee to Crimea, which remained under the control of anti-Bolshevik forces for much of the Russian Civil War. Ayn Rand returned to Saint Petersburg, at the time renamed Petrograd, and later Leningrad, in 1921, where she studied at Petrograd State University, graduating with a diploma in history in 1924.

3. During the years following her arrival in the United States, Rand enjoyed some success as a screenwriter in Hollywood and New York. In 1932, she sold a screenplay, Red Pawn, to Universal Studios, although it was never produced. This was likely due to its anti-Soviet theme being unappealing to many Hollywood filmmakers at the time having communist sympathies. However, her theatrical play, Night of January 16th, was popular on Broadway in the mid-1930s, and promoted the idea of individualism over social conformity.

4. In the 1940s, there were several feature films based on Ayn Rand’s early works. An example of this is the film adaptation of Rand’s novel, We the Living, produced in Italy in 1942. The film was subsequently pulled from theaters and banned by the Fascist government due to its anti-authoritarian message.

5. Rand’s influence also extended into the music industry. as the late Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for Canadian rock band Rush, acknowledged Rand’s work, and Anthem specifically, as an influence when writing the lyrics for the title song of the album 2112 (1976). Similarly to Anthem, the song 2112 is set in a dystopian future where all aspects of individual freedom are outlawed.

If you are interested in hearing more about Ayn Rand’s ideas, and pro-liberty ideas in general, you can use our special promo code AYNRAND20 to get 20% off LibertyCon tickets.

Please note, this offer will expire at midnight on February 4th, 2020. We hope to see you there!