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Ayn Rand and the Brandens: A Chronology

Background

Ayn Rand had a close personal and professional association with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden for over 18 years. Both Brandens have described their relationships with Rand in detail in separate books. However, no source has previously offered a simple chronology of the major events they recount. Such a chronology is provided below, using the available accounts as source material.

Because the chronology is based largely on first-person accounts that may be biased, incomplete or otherwise inaccurate, the details of this chronology are subject to change as additional material becomes available. However, multiple sources have been used whenever possible, and care has been taken to separate factual claims in each source from an author's interpretations or potentially self-serving presentation.

Chronology

Rand/Branden Chronology
DateEventSource
September 22, 1897Frank O'Connor is born in Lorraine, Ohio. 
February 2, 1905Alissa Rosenbaum (later Ayn Rand) is born in St. Petersburg, Russia 
1929Barbara Weidman (later Barbara Branden) is born. 
April 1930Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden) is born in Brampton, Ontario. 
1926Rosenbaum emigrates to the United States and changes her name to Ayn Rand. 
April 15, 1929Rand marries actor Frank O'Connor. 
Summer 1944Nathan Blumenthal (age 14) reads Rand's novel The Fountainhead for the first time. 
Fall 1948Blumenthal is introduced to another fan of The Fountainhead, Barbara Weidman.Who, pp. 221-222; JD, p. 29
Fall 1948 - Spring 1949Blumenthal and Weidman begin to date, and she introduces him to various friends and relatives of hers, including her ex-boyfriend Wilfred Schwartz and her cousin Leonard Peikoff. 
Summer 1949Blumenthal sends Rand a letter. He does not receive a response.JD, p. 39
September 1949Blumenthal and Weidman move to California to enroll in UCLA. 
Late 1949Blumenthal sends Rand another letter. 
December 2, 1949Rand responds to Blumenthal with a brief note that mentions his previous letter. In reply, Blumenthal sends her a third letter asking numerous questions.Letters, pp. 461, 462; JD, p. 40; Passion, p. 232; Who, pp. 220-221
January 12, 1950Rand responds with a lengthy letter and invites Blumenthal to send his telephone number. He replies with a letter that includes his telephone number.Letters, p. 462; JD, p. 40; Passion, p. 232; Who, pp. 221
February 1950Rand telephones Blumenthal and invites him to meet her in person. 
March 2, 1950Blumenthal visits Rand and her husband at their home in Chatsworth, California. They have a long conversation: Blumenthal arrives at 8:00 p.m. and does not leave until 5:30 a.m. the following day.JD, pp. 41-51; Who, p. 221
March 1950Blumenthal brings Weidman with him to visit Rand.JD, p. 52; Who, p. 221
Spring/Summer 1950Blumenthal and Weidman become close friends with Rand and O'Connor.Passion, pp. 236-237; Who, pp. 221-224
Summer 1951Blumenthal and Weidman move to New York City to continue their education at New York University.Passion, p. 249; Letters, p. xxi; Who, p. 224
October 1951Rand and O'Connor move back to New York City.Passion, pp. 250-251; Who, p. 225
January 1953Barbara Weidman marries Nathaniel Branden. Rand and O'Connor are the matron of honor and best man at the wedding.Who, p. 227
September 1954Branden and Rand recognize that romantic feelings exist between them. They begin to see one another privately without their spouses (but with their spouses' knowledge and consent), but do not have a sexual relationship.JD, pp. 142-157; Passion, pp. 255-259
January 1955Branden initiates a sexual relationship with Rand.JD, p. 158; Passion, pp. 259-260
October 10, 1957Atlas Shrugged is published. The dedication reads, "To Frank O'Connor and Nathaniel Branden."Letters, p. xxi; Passion, pp. 295-296; JD, p. 228; Who, p. 235
Fall 1957 - Spring 1959The sexual relationship between Branden and Rand becomes less active, and the sexual aspect of their affair eventually ends.JD, pp. 238-239, 248, 262; Passion, p. 304
January 1958Branden forms Nathaniel Branden Lectures to deliver seminars on Rand's philosophy.Letters, p. xxi; Passion, p. 306; JD, pp. 236-237
1961Patrecia Gullison begins attending Nathaniel Branden's lectures.JD, pp. 274-280
December 1961Nathaniel Branden Lectures incorporates under the name "Nathaniel Branden Institute" (NBI). 
January 1, 1962Rand and Nathaniel Branden begin publishing The Objectivist Newsletter. Barbara Branden serves as the managing editor.Who, p. 238; JD, p. 291;
June 1962Who Is Ayn Rand?, a book written by the two Brandens, is published.Passion, p. 313; JD, p. 301
1963Patrecia Gullison marries another NBI student, Lawrence Scott. 
1963Wilfred Schwartz becomes the business manager for The Objectivist Newsletter. 
October 1963Branden secretly begins seeing Patrecia Scott.JD, p. 319; Passion, p. 332
January 1964Branden and Patrecia Scott begin having a sexual affair. This affair is kept secret from their spouses and from Rand.JD, p. 327
February 1964With her husband's consent, Barbara Branden begins an affair with Wilfred Schwartz.Passion, p. 333; JD, p. 327
1964Rand's essay collection The Virtue of Selfishness is published. It includes articles written by Nathaniel Branden.  
1964Rand indicates a desire to resume her affair with Branden. Over the next few years, he puts her off. He cites various reasons why he cannot resume the affair, including marital problems with Barbara Branden, overwork, and fear of Rand's anger. Rand inquires about two possible reasons: that she is too old for him, or that he is having an affair with someone else. He denies both.Passion, pp. 331 ff.; Critics
Summer 1965The Brandens separate.Passion, p. 334; JD, p. 350
December 1965The Brandens make their separation public.JD, pp. 354-355
January 1966The Objectivist Newsletter becomes The Objectivist. Rand and Nathaniel Branden continue to be co-publishers and co-editors. Barbara Branden continues to be managing editor and Schwartz continues as the business manager. 
1966Patrecia and Lawrence Scott separate and divorce. She begins using 'Patrecia Wynand' as her professional name for acting and modeling engagements.Passion, p. 334; JD, pp. 354-355, 364
1966Rand's essay collection Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is published. It includes articles written by Branden and others. 
1966Nathaniel Branden tells Barbara Branden that he is having an affair with Patrecia Scott. 
1966Barbara Branden and Wilfred Schwartz end their affair.JD, p. 361-362
November 1967Rand begins writing detailed journal entries about her attempts to help Nathaniel Branden with his supposed psychological problems.Critics
Early 1968Rand confides to Barbara Branden that she is bewildered by Nathaniel Branden's behavior and attitudes.Passion, pp. 336-338; JD, p. 371, 373
Early 1968Barbara Branden begins an affair with Robert Berole, a dance instructor who later becomes manager of the NBI Book Service.Passion, p. 348
July 1968Branden gives Rand a written paper telling her that the difference in their ages prevents him from being romantically interested in her. Rand breaks off most personal relations with him, but does continue their business partnership and sessions to advise him on personal psychological issues.Passion, p. 340; Concern, pp. 451-452; JD, pp. 375-378; Answer
August 23, 1968Barbara Branden decides to inform Rand of the full truth about Nathaniel Branden's other affair. Her meeting with Rand precipitates a confrontation in which Rand denounces and slaps Nathaniel Branden.Passion, 342-347; JD, pp. 384-388; Concern, p. 452
August 24, 1968Rand demands that Nathaniel Branden resign from The Objectivist and NBI. Barbara Branden asks Rand to let her prepare a business plan for running NBI without him.Passion, pp. 347-348; JD pp. 389-390; Concern, pp. 452-453
August 25, 1968Nathaniel Branden transfers his interest in The Objectivist to Rand.Passion, p. 349; JD, pp. 390-391
August 28, 1968At a meeting of the joint staffs of NBI and The Objectivist, Barbara Branden announces Rand's break with Nathaniel Branden and his resignations. He addresses the group and affirms that he has acted wrongly and that Rand has severed their relationship because of this.Passion, p. 349; JD, p. 393
September 2, 1968Barbara Branden, Schwartz, and Berole meet with Rand and her lawyer to present their business plan for continuing NBI. Rand rejects the plan and refuses to support any continuation of NBI.Passion, p. 350; Concern, pp. 453-454; JD, p. 395
September 3, 1968Barbara Branden expresses concerns about Rand's behavior and state of mind to others. Rand demands that Barbara Branden meet with her and others to justify these remarks. Barbara Branden refuses in a telephone conversation that ends their personal relationship.Passion, p. 351; Concern, pp. 454-455; JD, p. 396
October 1968Rand publishes "To Whom It May Concern" in The Objectivist. It announces her repudiation of the Brandens and details several reasons for it. She accuses Nathaniel Branden of failing in his professional responsibilities, deliberately deceiving people, and exploiting her financially. She does not mention their affair. In the same issue, NBI's associate lecturers issue a brief statement repudiating the Brandens. 
October 31, 1968Nathaniel Branden and Patrecia Scott leave New York for California.JD, p. 409
Fall 1968The Brandens jointly publish their separately written responses to Rand's article, under the title "In Answer to Ayn Rand," and send them to The Objectivist's mailing list. They deny Rand's allegations of financial exploitation. Nathaniel Branden does not openly mention his affair with Rand, but does hint at it. 
November 7, 1969Nathaniel Branden marries Patrecia Scott. 
November 1970Rand modifies the introductions to The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal to note her repudiation of Branden, but does not remove his essays.VOS and CUI, compare original introductions with post-1970 printings
March 31, 1977Patrecia Branden dies. 
December 10, 1978Nathaniel Branden marries Devers Israel. 
November 9, 1979Frank O'Connor dies. 
Late 1980Devers Branden goes uninvited to Rand's apartment, and they talk. Over the next several months, she calls Rand several times, but they do not meet again.Years, pp. 391-401
May 1981Barbara Branden telephones Rand and tells her she will be visiting New York. They agree to meet.Passion, pp. 396-397
July 1981Barbara Branden and Rand meet for the last time.Passion, pp. 397-399
March 6, 1982Rand dies. 
1986Barbara Branden publishes a biography of Rand titled The Passion of Ayn Rand. 
1989Nathaniel Branden publishes a memoir titled Judgement Day: My Years with Ayn Rand. 
1999Nathaniel Branden publishes a revised version of his earlier memoir, renamed My Years with Ayn Rand. 
c. 2001Devers and Nathaniel Branden divorce, but remain friends.NB Emails
2005James S. Valliant publishes The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, which criticizes the accounts published by the Brandens. It includes material from Rand's personal journals discussing her realtionship with Nathaniel Branden. 

Sources

The following sources were used in preparing this chronology. Most of them are readily available from bookstores, libraries or the Internet.

Additional keywords: Ann Rand, Anne Rand, Any Rand, Nathaniel Brandon, Barbara Brandon


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