Frequently Asked Questions

Where and when was Ayn Rand born?

St. Petersburg, Russia, February 2, 1905.

How do you pronounce “Ayn”?

“Ayn” rhymes with “mine.”

Excerpted from a letter to a fan, 1937:

“Your letter inquiring about the origin of my name has been forwarded to me. . . . In answer to your question, I must say that ‘Ayn’ is both a real name and an invention. The original of it is a Finnish feminine name . . . . Its pronunciation, spelled phonetically, would be: ‘I-na.’ I do not know what its correct spelling should be in English, but I chose to make it ‘Ayn,’ eliminating the final ‘a.’ I pronounce it as the letter ‘I’ with an ‘n’ added to it.”

What is the origin of “Rand”?

From ARI’s monthly newsletter Impact, June 2000

“Ayn Rand, born Alisa Rosenbaum, based her professional first name on a Finnish one [see above]. The source of her last name, however, has been a mystery.

“Although its origin is still uncertain, recent biographical research by Drs. Allan Gotthelf and Michael Berliner has eliminated one possible source. An oft-repeated story claims that Ayn Rand took her last name from her Remington Rand typewriter while she was living in Chicago in 1926. This is false and we would like to put the error to rest.

“While still in Russia, c. 1925, and long before Remington Rand typewriters were produced, Alisa Rosenbaum had adopted the name ‘Rand.’ Letters written in 1926 from Ayn Rand’s family in Russia already refer to the name ‘Rand.’ These were sent from Russia before Ayn Rand had communicated from America. The Remington and Rand companies did not merge until 1927; ‘Rand’ did not appear on their (or any) typewriters until the early 1930s.

“One lead to the actual source of the name comes from Ayn Rand herself. In 1936, she told the New York Evening Post that ‘Rand is an abbreviation of my Russian surname.’ Originally, we thought that this was a red herring in order to protect her family from the Soviet authorities.

“In 1997 Dr. Berliner noted an interesting coincidence when looking at a copy of Miss Rand’s 1924 university diploma. On the diploma was the name Rosenbaum in the Cyrillic alphabet:


The last three letters clearly look like the Roman letters ‘ayn.’ Richard Ralston then noticed that by covering those letters—and dropping out the second and fourth letters—what remains bears a strong resemblance to the Roman letters ‘Rand.’


“Although far from certain, it appears that the quote in the New York Evening Post may not have been a decoy.”

Did Ayn Rand have any children?

Miss Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, chose not to have any children.

Of what did Ayn Rand die? Where is she buried?

Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, of heart failure. She was buried in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, N.Y., next to her husband Frank O’Connor (who died in 1979). See also: “To the Reader,” by Harry Binswanger, The Objectivist Forum, Vol. 3, No. 1.

What university did Ayn Rand attend and what subject did she study?

Ayn Rand entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history, and graduated in 1924.

Did Ayn Rand have any siblings?

Yes, she had two sisters: Natasha and Nora.

For which film studios did Ayn Rand work?

She worked for quite a few film companies in Los Angeles and New York City intermittently (while working on her writing projects) between 1926 to 1951. Here is a partial list.

She worked for Cecil B. DeMille from 1926–27, as an extra, writer and reader; for RKO (1929–32) in the wardrobe department; for Universal (1932) as a writer; Paramount (1934) as a writer; for Hal Wallis at Paramount (1943–48) as a writer. She also worked for Warner Brothers (1943–1949) on the screenplay for The Fountainhead movie. In New York (1935–43) she was a reader for Paramount and MGM.