Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum was born in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire on 2 February 1905 to a family of non-observant Jews, and her family's business was confiscated and her family displaced during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Rosenbaum, who had debated with Vladimir Nabokov's daughter and had studied history at Petrograd State University, was interested in classic literature, and she graduated in October 1924. In 1925, she was granted a visa to visit American relatives, and she resolved on staying in the United States after arriving in New York City in 1926. She became known as "Ayn Rand" and developed libertarian views, and Rand and her husband were full-time volunteers for Republican Party presidential candidate Wendell Willkie's 1940 presidential campaign. In 1943, she released her first majror novel, The Fountainhead, which criticized totalitarian collectivism. While working with Hollywood, she became involved with anti-communism, and she published three more novels; her fourth and last one, 1957's Atlas Shrugged, a book that criticized government coercion.
In all of her works, Rand advocated reason as the basis for knowledge, thereby rejecting faith and religion. She also rejected altruism, collectivism, statism, and anarchism, and she supported laissez-faire capitalism. Even after her 1982 death in New York City, her works continued to inspire right-wing politics, and libertarians and American conservatives used her works as guidelines for their own policies.