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Ayn Rand (1905 - 1982)
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From Ayn-Rand.com: Novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand was born Alissa Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her family lived in a large, comfortable apartment above the chemist shop owned by her father.
From her earliest years, the girl felt alienated from the dark, brooding atmosphere of Russia, but loved the bright world projected in stories appearing in foreign magazines. At age nine she made the conscious decision to become a writer.
In her teens, she discovered the works of great romantic writers such as Victor Hugo and Edmond Rostand. But as her private vision of human potential expanded, the social horizons of human possibility were shrinking around her. In February 1917 she witnessed the first shots of the Russian Revolution from her balcony. Soon, a communist gang nationalized her father's shop. Almost overnight, her family was reduced to crushing poverty.
Against the growing squalor of Soviet life, the young woman nurtured a burning desire to abandon Russia for the West. She obtained a passport to visit relatives in Chicago, and left Russia and her family in January 1926, never to return. She arrived in New York City weeks later, with only $50 in her purse.