Ayn Rand's real intellectual interest was emphatically not politics. Of course, she was a champion of capitalism and freedom. But unlike today's libertarians and conservatives, she was a thinker; she was not content to preach liberty or private property as though they were self-evident axioms. She wanted to know what they depend on and how they can be proved, all the way back to metaphysics and epistemology. This is why she admired Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas even more than she did Thomas Jefferson, and why, to the amazement of today's businessmen, she hated Kant and Hegel much more than income taxes. It is also why, starting with an interest in political questions, she was led eventually to formulate an overall system of thought, expressing a complete philosophy of life.
Ayn Rand's mind had an exalted quality, one shared by only a handful of kindred spirits across the ages. Hers was a mind with the profundity of a true philosopher; a mind that greeted the deepest issues of man's life with solemn reverence and ruthless logic; a mind that derived its greatest joy and its personal fulfillment from the rational study of fundamentals. In our age of mediocrity and anti-philosophy, this fact doomed her to a certain loneliness. It made her a unique personality, unable to find her equal, just as her product, the philosophy of reason that she called Objectivism, is unique and unequaled.
If you want to know what Ayn Rand was like as a person, I can now answer simply: you already know it, because she was just what she had to be given the nature of her intellectual processes. Ayn Rand the person was an expression and corollary of Ayn Rand the mind.
"My Thirty Years With Ayn Rand", The Voice of Reason, p. 346-7