Skip to content
Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s unprecedented argument for capitalism − man’s right to exist for his own sake, to pursue the work of his choice, to keep the rewards of his labor. She argues that capitalism demands the best of every man and rewards him according to his ability and ambition.
In order to understand the railroad business, the core business she focused on in Atlas, Ayn Rand read everything she could including, This Fascinating Railroad Business by Robert Selph Henry. In the collection is her copy of this book, annotated by her throughout.
Twenty of the approximately twenty-nine surviving pages of the original heavily corrected and revised manuscript draft of ATLAS SHRUGGED are in the collection. Rand gave these pages to her closet friend, assistant and first biographer, Barbara Branden. Rand considered her one of the most important proponents of Objectivism. These were sold by her at a special auction twenty-three years ago.
Branden wrote in the preface to the auction: “My prized possession is the original manuscript pages of Atlas Shrugged, written in Ayn’s strong, angular hand – a gift I have treasured for forty years. Touching these pages sweeps me back to the years of reading the manuscript as Ayn was writing it — the excitement of being carried into a saner universe than the one I knew — the job of discovering the answers to so many questions that had seemed to have no answer – the ecstatic sense of encountering, on each page, a mind of such power and range that I knew I would never find its equal again. I think of the sense, through those years, that her fictional heroes, John Galt and Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden and Francisco d’Anconia, were becoming intimate and well-loved friends, almost as real as my other friends, almost as real as Ayn Rand.”
Branden had asked Rand for these pages in order to preserve a record of how Rand developed her novel (nearly all other pages were discarded after transcribing by typists).
These manuscript pages give extraordinary insight into the enormous thought and work Rand put into the writing of Atlas Shrugged which, in its final published version, is exceptionally successful in being devoid of unnecessary words and thoughts. Ayn Rand’s philosophical thoughts and ideas flowed with amazing clarity in her personal interviews and it is very interesting to see how these clear philosophical beliefs required great development to be put into a fictional sphere. The finished typewritten manuscript of Atlas Shrugged is now in the Library of Congress.
As Ayn Rand finished the last page of Atlas and wrote “The end” she stood up from her desk and Branden snapped a photograph of her. The original is in this collection; it appeared in Branden’s biography of Rand. “I gaze at the photograph I took of an elated Ayn as she stood with her hand on the just- completed manuscript of Atlas. I remember that evening with an overwhelming immediacy; I feel again Ayn’s excitement and mine and that of our friends who had gathered in her apartment. We believed that we were present at a turning point in man’s intellectual history – and, much later, as Ayn’s fame and influence came to circle the globe, I know that we had indeed been witnesses to history.”
“The Fascist New Frontier” is the title of one of Ayn Rand’s most provocative essays. Dated December 16, 1962, the fifty-three-page autograph manuscript was for a speech delivered two days later in Boston. In it she attacks the New Frontier as a version of fascism:
“… A man’s position is determined not by his productive ability and achievement, but by political pull and force… if it is right to sacrifice ability to incompetence or success to failure, or achievement to envy….”
The Autograph Manuscript drafts of her twenty-four (of twenty-six) columns written for publication in the Los Angeles Times newspaper, 261 pages, eight by ten inches, June through September 1962. In her first column she defined her philosophy in Atlas Shrugged and then her Objectivist view that would examine the issues of the times in her next twenty-four columns:
“Objectivism holds that: 1. Reality exists as an objective absolute-facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears. 2. Reason – is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action and his basic means of survival. 3. Man-every man-is an end in himself, not the means to the end of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself for others nor others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and his own happiness is the highest moral purpose in his life. 4. The ideal political economic system is capitalism-full, complete, unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism…. men deal with one another not… as masters and slaves but as traders by free voluntary exchanges to mutual benefit… the use of government acts only… to protect man’s rights…. A complete separation of state and economics – as the separation of state and church….”
These manuscripts were given to Robert Hessen, her personal assistant. When Barbara Branden told him she was parting with her manuscripts of Atlas Shrugged he too decided to sell this group. He described how Rand came to give these manuscripts to him:
“I keenly recall the first time, after eighteen months of typing letters, that she asked me to type a short article she had written. I brought the pages into her study and she compared her draft with my version. After making some corrections, she started to tear the original in half. I screamed: ‘Stop! What are you doing?’ She said: ‘I’m throwing it away, of course.’ I said: ‘How would you feel if one of Aristotle’s manuscripts had survived and you were able to see it?’ She smiled.
‘But I have no need for drafts of every article I ever write,’ she said. ‘Well, then, if you are going to throw them away, you can give them to me.’ ‘What for?’ she asked, ‘what will you do with them?’ ‘Frankly, I don’t know,’ I said, ‘but someday they may be valuable.’ ‘O.K., Bob, but I do not want anyone to see my editing. I will have to rewrite these pages, so no one will see that I changed words or crossed out sentences,’ ‘No, no, Ayn, don’t do that. I promise never to show them to anyone during your lifetime.’ She handed me back that first article and continued to give me articles.”