Ayn age 9, with her father

Natasha, Nora and Ayn

Anna Borisovna Rosebaum

Ayn in 1925

Alisa Rosenbaum was born on February 3, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Alisa, later changing her name to Ayn Rand ( pronounced "I-an" ), would become one the best selling authors of all time. Her book, "Atlas Shrugged", in 1991 was named the second most influential book for Americans, following the Bible.

"I decides to be a writer at the age of 9...it was a specific, conscious decision...I remember the day and the hour."

Ayn's father, Zinovy Zacharovich Rosenbaum was a successful pharmacist in St. Petersburg. Ayn greatly admired her father as an honorable and principled man. Her mother, Anna considered herself an intellectual and attended many lectures and theatrical productions. She often commented to Ayn that raising children was a "hateful duty", but was concerned and attentive to her family's needs.

She seemed to be closer to her father. She felt that intellectually they were more compatible. Although it was her mother who made arrangements for Ayn to leave Russia in 1926

Ayn unlike her sisters, Natasha and Nora, had little interest in children's stories and preferred reading a young boy's magazine filled with tales of heroes and adventure. Her mother, Anna, took her to see her first movie. She quickly fell in love with the movies, becoming excited about writing film scripts.

In 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out and Bolsheviks seized her fathers business. This was the beginning of her hatred of Communism. Collectivism vs Individualism would be her life-long theme running through all her writings. She was introduced to the books of Victor Hugo at this time and reflected later, by saying:

"Victor Hugo is my favorite writer in all world literature, not for the content of his ideas, but for his literary method, and he is the only writer who had some influence on my style of writing."

The family moved from St. Petersburg in 1918 to escape the communist regime and settled on the Crimean Peninsula where her father opened another business. With the communist following on their heels, the shop was nationalized and they moved back to St. Petersburg (now called Petrograd).

Ayn graduated from highschool in 1921 and enter the University of Leningrad at 16. With her studies in philosophy, her beliefs were strongly affected by Aristotle.

"...that there is only one reality, the one that man perceives...and that his mind is his only tool of knowledge."

With the Communists in power hunger and disease ran ramped throughout Russia, and speaking against the government could mean "Siberia" for you and your family.

Graduating from college in 1924, Ayn enrolled at a school for screenwriters, the "Cinema Institute", and in 1925 took a job as a museum guide. During this time Ayn developed a passion for the world of stage and film, bringing with it scenes of bright lights and foreign cities...

"It was the World into which I had to grow up some day, the World I had to reach"

In 1925 Ayn's mother wrote to relatives in Chicago and asked if her daughter could visit them in the States. By early 1926 she had a passport, and a first class ticket on a steamer to America provided by her mother. Ayn left Russia on January 26...celebrating her 21st birthday in Berlin, and arrived in New York City on February 10th. This would be the "turning-point" of her life.