Anthem by Ayn Rand - is a dystopian fiction novella by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand, written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in the United Kingdom. The story takes place at an unspecified future date when mankind has entered another Dark Age. Technological advancement is now carefully planned and the concept of individuality has been eliminated. A young man known as Equality 7-2521 rebels by doing secret scientific research. When his activity is discovered, he flees into the wilderness with the girl he loves. Together they plan to establish a new society based on rediscovered individualism.
Rand originally conceived of the story as a play, then decided to write for magazine publication. At her agent's suggestion, she submitted it to book publishers. The novella was first published by Cassell in England. It was published in the United States only after Rand's next novel, The Fountainhead, became a best seller. Rand revised the text for the US edition published in 1946.
Equality 7-2521, a 21-year-old man writing by candlelight in a tunnel under the earth, tells the story of his life up to that point. He exclusively uses plural pronouns ("we", "our", "they") to refer to himself and others. He was raised like all children in his society, away from his parents in collective homes: the Home of Infants from birth until five years old, then the Home of Students from five to fifteen. He believes he has a "curse" that makes him learn quickly and ask many questions. He excels at the Science of Things and dreams of becoming a Scholar, but when the Council of Vocations assigns his Life Mandate at fifteen, he is assigned to be a Street Sweeper.
Equality 7-2521 accepts his street sweeping assignment as penance for his Transgression of Preference in secretly desiring to be a Scholar. He works with the handicapped Union 5-3992 and International 4-8818, the latter of whom is Equality's only friend (which is another Transgression of Preference, because all are supposedly equal in their society). Despite International's protests that any exploration unauthorized by a Council is forbidden, Equality explores an underground tunnel near the City Theatre tent, and finds metal tracks.
Equality believes the tunnel is from the Unmentionable Times of the distant past. He begins sneaking away from his community at night to use the tunnel as a laboratory for scientific experiments, using garbage he has taken from the Home of the Scholars. He is using stolen paper from the Home of the Clerks to write his journal, by candlelight, using candles stolen from the larder at the Home of the Street Sweepers.
While cleaning a road at the edge of the City, Equality meets Liberty 5-3000, a 17-year-old Peasant girl who works in the fields. He commits another transgression by thinking constantly of her, instead of waiting to be assigned a woman at the annual Time of Mating, in which men aged twenty and over, and females of eighteen and over, are assigned to each other solely for breeding. She has dark eyes and golden hair, and he names her "The Golden One". When he speaks to her, he discovers that she also thinks of him. He reveals his secret name for her, and Liberty tells Equality she has named him "The Unconquered".