Ayn Rand

Barbara Branden on Ayn Rand's Inner Life and Legacy


As Brian Doherty noted last night, author and longtime associate of Ayn Rand and major figure in the development of the broad-based libertarian movement Barbara Branden has died at the age of 84. In his eloquent obituary, Doherty writes that Barbara "Branden was a living and bracing example of how one needn't either blindly worship or ignore the humanity of Ayn Rand to admire and promote her philosophy." Branden's The Passion of Ayn Rand, which focused on the emotional life of a writer best known for promoting rationality, was a controversial best-seller that was later turned into a popular Showtime drama. 

Click above to see Branden discuss Rand and her legacy as part of Reason TV's 2009 series Radicals for Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand. (Watch all of our Rand-related videos, including interviews with Nathaniel Branden, the founders of Reason Foundation Bob Poole, Manny Klausner, and Tibor Machan, behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the movie of Atlas Shrugged, and more).

The interview with Barbara Branden originally ran on November 10, 2009. Here's the writeup that accompanied it:

Arguably, no two people were closer to Ayn Rand than Barbara and Nathaniel Branden, whom Rand once named as her "intellectual heir." Indeed, when the Brandens married in 1953, the author served as bridesmaid (Rand had also urged the pair to wed).

A decade later, the Brandens would collaborate on the first biography of Rand, Who Is Ayn Rand? In 1986, Barbara published a second biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which eventually was made into an award-winning Showtime movie starring Helen Mirren. 

Despite the ruinous and controversial romantic affair between Rand and Nathaniel Branden and her eventual ouster from Rand's inner circle, Barbara still feels fondly for the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. As Branden, now 80, recalls in this Reason.tv interview, "I felt like she's answering questions that I've been looking for answers for, and nobody's been giving me any sort of answer until now."

Approximately seven minutes. Interview by Seth Goldin, camera by Alex Manning, and editing by Hawk Jensen. 

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  1. I always respected Ayn Rand for the affair. The woman was an atheist whose ethic was about personal achievement and art. I honestly don’t see how her affair violated her personal code of ethics. And since she was an atheist, her personal code is the only standard she should be answerable too. I always felt the affair meant that Rand wasn’t one of that horrible species I call the pious atheist.

    1. for most objectivist, like you and her, government (or military) still serves as your god. I call it the ‘militant’ atheist.

      1. Maybe you missed the memo, but I am anything but an objectivist.

      2. So, Jam. Are we talking about the same Ayn Rand here? Because I think you’re not thinking of…well…maybe you’re just not thinking at all.

    2. You can have a sense of honor and respect for others without a belief in God. I disrespect her for the affair because she disrespected Barbara in interfering with her marriage. It was a dishonorable act and something that a moral person doesn’t do to someone they call a friend.

      1. Sure you can. But I don’t think Rand’s ethics really did. Rand was the superior individual to Barbara. Who is Barbara to stand in the way of Rand’s art and fulfillment?

    3. Ayn Rand was an asshole!!! Fucking another woman’s husband when you are married is normally called adultery, but according to the “standards” of that bitch, she could do anything she wanted. She was also screwing Brandon right under the noses of his wife and her husband. What a degenerate. She came to the U.S. from post revolutionary Russia so she could invent her own brand of bullshit and spread it around the United States. Fuck Ayn Rand!!!!!!!

  2. Is it pronounced like “Anus” Rand or “Heiny” Rand?

    1. Make it Ayn “Objectivist Vagina” Rand. That should take care of it.

  3. I respect and admire Ayn Rand. But the as far as the affair with Nathaniel Branden goes, the true test of her ethics came when that affair was ended by Branden. She went absolutely crazy, told him he was immoral for not continuing to be attracted to her. She refused to speak to him or even acknowledge him after he told her it was over.

  4. Boo Hoo poor Ayn Rand. Fuck Ayn Rand. What an asshole bitch she was!!!!!

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