Howard Roark. John Galt. Dagny Taggart. Hank Rearden. The heroes of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are famous because they’re unique. Rand’s stories, full of drama and intrigue, portray businessmen, inventors, architects, workers and scientists as noble, passionate figures. Where else will you find an inventor who must rediscover the word “I,” a young woman who defies a nation embracing communism, or an industrialist who must disguise himself as a playboy? A philosopher-pirate? An architect who is fiercely selfish yet enormously benevolent? A man who vows to stop the motor of the world — and does?

In creating her novels, Rand sought to make real her exalted view of man and of life — “like a beacon,” she wrote, “raised over the dark crossroads of the world, saying ‘This is possible.’” For millions of readers, the experience of entering Rand’s universe proves unforgettable.

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Pop Quiz

How many publishers rejected the Fountainhead manuscript?



More than five publishers turned down an opportunity to publish the Ayn Rand novel that would eventually sell more than seven million copies. (Learn more about this Rand best seller here).



More than nine publishers turned down the Ayn Rand novel that would eventually sell more than seven million copies. (Learn more about this Rand best seller here).



That’s right — a dozen publishers rejected the Ayn Rand novel that would eventually sell more than seven million copies. (Learn more about this Rand best seller here).



No, it was actually twelve publishers who turned down the Ayn Rand manuscript that eventually sold more than seven million copies. (Learn more about this Rand best seller here.)



To create her unusual stories and characters, Rand had to define the new ideas and principles that guide her heroes. She had to create a new philosophy. “I am interested in philosophical principles,” she wrote, “only as they affect the actual existence of men; and in men, only as they reflect philosophical principles.”

For Rand, philosophy is not an esoteric subject but a daily force shaping individual lives and human history. You must have some view of the kind of world you live in, of how best to understand and deal with it, and of what to aim at in life. Your only choice is whether your philosophical premises are acquired by your own independent thinking or absorbed unquestioningly from those around you.

Formally, Rand called her philosophy “Objectivism,” but informally she called it “a philosophy for living on earth.”


Learn More About The Ideas

Owner: ©Leonard Peikoff | Credit: Ayn Rand Archives


During her own lifetime, Rand became a famous and controversial figure. A best-selling author, she also carried her message to university classrooms, to Hollywood, to Congress, to the editorial page, to talk shows and radio programs. Her presence has only increased since her death in 1982, as her philosophy has become more well-known. Today, her books have sold in the millions, and she’s the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, a U.S. postage stamp, university courses, and a philosophical society devoted to the study of her thought.

Fueled by her vision of man as a heroic being and by the original philosophy behind it, more and more people, from all walks of life, from businessmen to students to professors to athletes to artists, are saying the same thing: “Ayn Rand’s writings changed my life.”

Suggested Course



This documentary-style course traces Ayn Rand’s life (1905 – 1982) from the perspective of her goal to become a professional writer. Photographs, film clips and audio of Rand’s own personal recollections enliven this narrative of her prolific career.
Course Length
1 Lesson
View Course Details

The Ayn Rand Archives

The Ayn Rand Archives acquires, preserves, and provides access to Ayn Rand’s personal papers and related items. Our holdings form the most comprehensive grouping of Ayn Rand material in the world. The reading room, located in Irvine, California, is open to scholars, general writers, journalists, and university students. To learn more about our collections or to make an appointment to visit us, please click here.


The Ayn Rand Archives
6 Hutton Centre Drive
Suite 600
Santa Ana, CA 92707




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Do you remember what you thought or how you felt when you read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead for the first time? Do you want others to have that same experience?

The Ayn Rand Institute makes that happen every day. We encourage young people to read Ayn Rand and become passionate about her ideas through educational programs, articles, talks, blog posts and social media.

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