Barbara Branden

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Barbara Branden
Barbara Branden.jpg
Publicity photo of Barbara Branden
BornBarbara Weidman
(1929-05-14)May 14, 1929
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
DiedDecember 11, 2013(2013-12-11) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Notable works The Passion of Ayn Rand
Who Is Ayn Rand?
Spouse Nathaniel Branden (divorced)

Barbara Branden (née Weidman; May 14, 1929 – December 11, 2013) was a Canadian-American writer, editor, and lecturer, known for her relationship and subsequent break with novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand. [1] [2] [3]

Ayn Rand Russian-American writer and philosopher

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.



Born in Winnipeg, Barbara Weidman met Nathaniel Branden because of their mutual interest in Ayn Rand's works. They became personal friends of Rand in 1950, [4] and when they married in 1953, Rand and her husband, Frank O'Connor, served as the matron of honor and best man. [5] [6] She earned her M.A. in philosophy, and authored a thesis on free will, under the direction of Sidney Hook at New York University. [7] Nathaniel and Barbara Branden became founding members of an Objectivist movement that sought to advance Rand's ideas. [8]

Winnipeg Provincial capital city in Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. Centred on the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, it is near the longitudinal centre of North America, approximately 110 kilometres (70 mi) north of the Canada–United States border.

Nathaniel Branden Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer

Nathaniel Branden was a Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem. A former associate and romantic partner of Ayn Rand, Branden also played a prominent role in the 1960s in promoting Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Rand and Branden split acrimoniously in 1968, after which Branden focused on developing his own psychological theories and modes of therapy.

Sidney Hook 20th-Century American philosopher

Sidney Hook was an American philosopher of the pragmatist school known for his contributions to the philosophy of history, the philosophy of education, political theory, and ethics. After embracing Communism in his youth, Hook was later known for his criticisms of totalitarianism, both fascism and Marxism–Leninism. A pragmatic social democrat, Hook sometimes cooperated with conservatives, particularly in opposing Communism. After World War II, he argued that members of such groups as the Communist Party USA and Leninists like Democratic centralists could ethically be barred from holding the offices of public trust because they called for the violent overthrow of democratic governments.

In 1954, Nathaniel Branden began a secret romantic affair with Rand with the reluctant permission of both spouses. This relationship continued for three years. [6] [9] [10] While their respective spouses, Barbara Branden and Frank O'Connor, had knowledge of the affair and nominally accepted it, Branden later said it led to "years of pain" and "enormous harm", describing it as a "sacrifice". [11]

Barbara and Nathaniel Branden co-wrote Who Is Ayn Rand? in 1962. Barbara Branden's essay in the book was the first biography of Rand. When it was written, Rand considered Barbara Branden to be one of the most important proponents of Objectivism.

<i>Who Is Ayn Rand?</i> book by Nathaniel Branden

Who Is Ayn Rand? is a 1962 book about Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden. It comprises four essays addressing Rand's life and writings and her philosophy of Objectivism. The book's title essay is Barbara Branden's authorized biography of Rand. The Brandens subsequently repudiated the book, deeming its approach too uncritical toward Rand.

Objectivism (Ayn Rand) philosophy created by Ayn Rand

Objectivism is a philosophical system developed by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Rand first expressed Objectivism in her fiction, most notably The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and later in non-fiction essays and books. Leonard Peikoff, a professional philosopher and Rand's designated intellectual heir, later gave it a more formal structure. Rand described Objectivism as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute". Peikoff characterizes Objectivism as a "closed system" that is not subject to change.

She served as the Executive Director of the Nathaniel Branden Institute, and gave a series of lectures on "Principles of Efficient Thinking."

Nathaniel Branden Institute organization

The Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), originally Nathaniel Branden Lectures, was an organization founded by Nathaniel Branden in 1958 to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. The institute was responsible for many Objectivist lectures and presentations across the United States. Many of those associated with NBI worked on the Objectivist magazines, The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist.

In 1968, when Rand terminated her association with Nathaniel Branden after she discovered that he had become involved with actress Patrecia Scott more than four years earlier, she likewise disassociated herself from Barbara Branden for keeping this fact from her. The details of these events remain controversial.

Patrecia Scott was a Canadian-born American model as well as television and stage actress who was married from 1969 until her death to Nathaniel Branden.

In 1986, Barbara Branden published another biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand . The book, written after Rand's death in 1982, caused a rift among Rand's followers because it not only stated that Rand and Nathaniel Branden had been lovers, but that Rand had broken with them when she learned of his affair with Scott. [12] Rand had previously claimed that the friendship broke up over other matters, but letters in her estate confirmed Barbara Branden's version of the cause. [12] The book was made into an Emmy Award-winning motion picture in 1999 starring Helen Mirren as Rand, Eric Stoltz as Branden and Julie Delpy playing Barbara. [13]

She contributed the lead essay "Ayn Rand: The Reluctant Feminist" to the anthology Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, wherein she argued that the way Rand lived her life made it a feminist manifesto, even as Rand had disagreements with feminism. [14] Barbara Branden was estranged from her cousin Leonard Peikoff, Rand's chosen intellectual and legal heir after Rand's break with Nathaniel Branden.

Barbara Branden died of a lung infection in Los Angeles on December 11, 2013. [1] [3]


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  1. 1 2 Doherty, Brian (12 December 2013). "Barbara Branden, RIP". Reason . Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  2. McLemee, Scott (September 1999). "The Heirs Of Ayn Rand: Has Objectivism Gone Subjective?". Lingua Franca . 9 (6): 45–55.
  3. 1 2 Woo, Elaine (13 December 2013). "Barbara Branden dies at 84; Ayn Rand biographer championed her subject". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  4. Branden, Barbara (1986). The Passion of Ayn Rand. New York: Doubleday. p. 233.
  5. Branden, Barbara (1986). The Passion of Ayn Rand. New York: Doubleday. p. 253.
  6. 1 2 Yardley, William (12 December 2014). "Nathaniel Branden, a Partner in Love And Business With Ayn Rand, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  7. "About Barbara Branden".
  8. Britting, Jeff (2004). Ayn Rand. Overlook Illustrated Lives. New York: Overlook Duckworth. p. 88. ISBN   1-58567-406-0. OCLC   56413971.
  9. Reedstrom, Karen (October 1992). "Interview with Barbara Branden". Full Context. 5 (2).
  10. Lamb, Brian (2 July 1989). "Nathaniel Branden: Author, 'Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand'". Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  11. Minto, Karen (September–October 1998). "Interview with Barbara Branden". Full Context. 11 (1).
  12. 1 2 Vitello, Paul (25 December 2013). "Barbara Branden, Biographer of Ayn Rand, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  13. The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999). IMDb. Retrieved 2 March 2007.
  14. "Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand". Retrieved 9 November 2017.