Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley


Who Was Aldous Huxley?

After a serious illness left him partially blind as a youth, Aldous Huxley abandoned his dreams of becoming a scientist to pursue a literary career. In 1916 he graduated with honors from Balliol College at Oxford University and published a collection of poems. Five years later he published his debut novel Crome Yellow , which brought him his first taste of success. He followed with several more equally successful satirical novels before publishing the work for which he is best known, Brave New World . A dark vision of the future, it is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Huxley moved to the United States in 1937 and for the rest of his life maintained a prolific output of novels, nonfiction, screenplays and essays.

But while he was still a boy, Huxley’s life would be upended by tragedy. In 1908 his mother died of cancer, and in 1911 he was struck blind by the disease keratitis punctata. Although Huxley did regain some of his sight, he would remain partially blind for the rest of his life and read with great difficulty. As a result, while attending the prestigious prep school Eton, Huxley abandoned his dreams of becoming a scientist and decided to focus on a literary career. Fate struck Huxley one more blow in 1914 when his brother Noel committed suicide after struggling with an extended period of depression.

Burgeoning Writer

A brilliant student despite the obstacles of his youth, Huxley earned a scholarship to Balliol College at Oxford University, where he studied English literature, reading with the aid of a magnifying glass and eye drops that dilated his pupils. He also began to write poetry, and in 1916 he published his first book, a collection of poems titled The Burning Wheel , the same year in which he graduated with honors.

Perhaps more important to his literary aspirations, however, was the time during this period that he spent at Garsington Manor, the home of socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell and a gathering place for intellectuals and writers such as Virginia Woolf , Bertrand Russell, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence , with whom Huxley would develop a lasting friendship. With his encyclopedic knowledge, matched only by his wit and skill as a conversationalist, it was at Garsington that Huxley first established his reputation as one of the most significant minds in England.

Leveraging this reputation, Huxley contributed articles to such periodicals as The Athenaeum , Vanity Fair and Vogue and published several more collections of poetry as well. In 1919 he also made advances in his personal life, marrying Maria Nys. She gave birth to their son, Matthew, the following year.

'Brave New World'

Amidst all of these professional and personal developments, Huxley began work on his novel Crome Yellow , a parody of the intelligentsia and his experiences at Garsington. Although the book's publication in 1921 angered many of his Garsington acquaintances, it also established Huxley as an important writer and sold well enough to allow him to pursue his literary destiny. While traveling about Europe with his family for the next several years, Huxley produced the commercially successful novels Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925) and Point Counter Point (1928), which, like Crome , were satires of contemporary society and conventional morality. Huxley’s greatest work, however, was still to come.

Ensconced in his recently purchased villa in the South of France, in late 1931 Huxley began work on what is now widely considered to be one of the Western canon's most important novels. Published in 1932, Brave New World marks the apogee of Huxley’s abilities as a satirist. The world it presents, however, is viewed through a much darker lens, informed by the writer’s growing anxieties about the direction of political, social and scientific progress. Brave New World is also an astonishingly prescient novel, foretelling advances in each of these areas that were as much as a half-century away.

Set in London in 2540, the 7th century After Ford, Brave New World presents a future in which genetically engineered babies are produced on assembly lines, the social and economic divide between the haves and the have nots is legally enforced and discontent is quelled by advertising, medication, sex and entertainment. Now, nearly a century from the novel’s publication, among its prophecies that have come to pass are the rise of dictatorial governments, in vitro fertilization, genetic cloning, virtual reality, antidepressants and the invention of the helicopter.

The novel proved to be a massive critical and commercial success, cementing Huxley’s place as one of the most important writers of the era. In the decades that followed, that prestige would enable Huxley to not only indulge his love of travel but to also explore new ways of being.

Novels, Essays, Screenwriting and More

Huxley followed Brave New World with the 1936 novel Eyeless in Gaza , which showed his blossoming interest in Eastern philosophy and mysticism. The following year, he left Europe for North America, where he completed a work on pacifism titled Ends and Means , and in 1938 he settled in Los Angeles, California, where he would spend most of the rest of his life. During this time, Huxley added screenwriter to his long list of occupations and was paid handsomely by studios for his work. Among his more notable film credits are Pride and Prejudice (1940), Jane Eyre (1943) and Madame Curie (1943).

Settled comfortably in a Hollywood Hills home, in between screenplays Huxley continued his prolific literary output, completing the novels After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939), Time Must Have a Stop (1944) and Ape and Essence (1948) and the nonfiction works The Art of Seeing (1943, which chronicled a method used to improve his eyesight), The Perennial Philosophy (1946) and The Devils of Loudon (1952). He also worked on countless articles and editorials. Much of what time he had left he devoted to his interest in Eastern mysticism, beginning a decades-long association with the Vedanta Society, whose journal Huxley contributed numerous pieces to. This interest in mysticism also led Huxley to experiment with the hallucinogen mescaline, which he wrote about in his 1954 collection of essays The Doors of Perception . The title would later be appropriated by Jim Morrison as the name for his legendary rock group, the Doors.

A More Utopian Vision

In early 1955, Maria died of cancer, and later that year Huxley published his next novel, The Genius and the Goddess . In 1956, Huxley married his second wife, Laura, who would later write a biography of their life together titled This Timeless Moment (1968). In 1958, he published a collection of essays titled Brave New World Revisited , in which he took stock of the present day and argued that it alarmingly resembled the reality of his 1932 novel.

As Huxley tirelessly explored both the world around him and his inner self, sharing his findings through his work, in 1960 he was diagnosed with cancer. For the next two years he persevered, however, completing what would prove to be his last novel, The Island (1962), which placed a more positive spin on some of the themes Huxley addressed in Brave New World .

With Laura at his bedside, Huxley died on November 22, 1963, at the age of 69, having written more than 50 books, including one of the most significant of the 20th century, as well as innumerable works of criticism, poetry and drama. But despite his immense literary stature, his passing went largely unnoticed at the time, occurring as it did on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.


  • Name: Aldous Huxley
  • Birth Year: 1894
  • Birth date: July 26, 1894
  • Birth City: Godalming
  • Birth Country: United Kingdom
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Author and screenwriter Aldous Huxley is best known for his 1932 novel 'Brave New World,' a nightmarish vision of the future.
  • Fiction and Poetry
  • Astrological Sign: Leo
  • Balliol College
  • Interesting Facts
  • Aldous Huxley died on the same day as fellow author C. S. Lewis and President John F. Kennedy.
  • Death Year: 1963
  • Death date: November 22, 1963
  • Death State: California
  • Death City: Los Angeles
  • Death Country: United States

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  • Last Updated: June 29, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014

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Biography of Aldous Huxley, British Author, Philosopher, Screenwriter

Author of Dystopian Novel 'Brave New World'

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Aldous Huxley (July 26, 1894–November 22, 1963) was a British writer who authored more than 50 books and a large selection of poetry, stories, articles, philosophical treatises, and screenplays. His work, especially his most renowned and often controversial novel, Brave New World , has served as a form of social critique to the ills of the current era. Huxley also enjoyed a successful career as a screenwriter and became an influential figure in American counterculture.

Fast Facts: Aldous Huxley

  • Full Name: Aldous Leonard Huxley
  • Known For : His eerily accurate portrayal of dystopian society in his book Brave New World (1932) and for his devotion to Vedanta
  • Born : August 26, 1894 in Surrey, England
  • Parents : Leonard Huxley and Julia Arnold
  • Died : November 22, 1963 in Los Angeles, California
  • Education : Balliol College, Oxford University
  • Notable Works: Brave New World (1932), Perennial Philosophy (1945), Island (1962)
  • Partners: Maria Nys (married 1919, died 1955); Laura Archera (married 1956)
  • Children: Matthew Huxley

Early Life (1894-1919)

Aldous Leonard Huxley was born in Surrey, England, on July 26, 1894. His father, Leonard, was a schoolmaster and editor of the literary journal Cornhill Magazine, while his mother, Julia, was the founder of Prior’s School. His paternal grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, the famed zoologist known as “Darwin’s Bulldog.” His family had both literary and scientific intellectuals—his father also had botanical laboratory—, and his brothers Julian and Andrew Huxley eventually became famed biologists in their own right. 

Huxley attended Hillside school, where he was taught by his mother until she became terminally ill. Subsequently, he transferred to Eton College.

In 1911, at age 14, he contracted keratitis punctata, an eye disease that left him practically blind for the next two years. Initially, he wanted to become a doctor, but his condition prevented him from pursuing that path. In 1913, he enrolled in Balliol College at Oxford University, where he studied English Literature, and in 1916 he edited the literary magazine Oxford Poetry. Huxley volunteered for the British Army during World War I, but was rejected due to his eye condition. He graduated in June 1916 with first-class honors. Upon graduating, Huxley briefly taught French at Eton, where one of his pupils was Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell.

While World War I was raging, Huxley spent his time at Garsington Manor, working as a farmhand for Lady Ottoline Morrell. While there, he became acquainted with the Bloomsbury Group of British intellectuals, including Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. In the 20s, he also found employment at the chemical plant Brunner and Mond, an experience that greatly influenced his work.

Between Satire and Dystopia (1919-1936)

  • Crome Yellow (1921)
  • Antic Hay (1923)
  • Those Barren Leaves (1925)
  • Point Counter Point (1928)
  • Brave New World (1932)
  • Eyeless in Gaza (1936)


  • Pacifism and Philosophy (1936)
  • Ends and Means (1937)

In 1919, literary critic and Garsington-adjacent intellectual John Middleton Murry was reorganizing the literary magazine Athenaeum and invited Huxley to join the staff. During that period of his life, Huxley also married Maria Nys, a Belgian refugee who was at Garsington.

In the 1920s, Huxley delighted in exploring the mannerisms of high society with dry wit. Crome Yellow poked fun at the lifestyle they led at Garsington Manor; Antic Hay (1923) portrayed the cultural elite as aimless and self-absorbed; and Those Barren Leaves (1925) had a group of pretentious aspiring intellectuals gathered in an Italian palazzo to relive the glories of the Renaissance. Parallel to his fiction writing, he also contributed to Vanity Fair and British Vogue. 

In the 1920s, he and his family spent part of their time in Italy, as Huxley’s good friend D.H. Lawrence lived there and they would visit him. Upon Lawrence’s passing, Huxley edited his letters. 

In the 1930s, he started writing about the dehumanizing effects of scientific progress. In Brave New World (1932), perhaps his most famous works, Huxley explored the dynamics of a seemingly utopian society where hedonistic happiness is offered in exchange for the suppression of individual freedom and the adherence to conformity. Eyeless in Gaza (1936), by contrast, had a cynic man overcome his disillusionment through Eastern philosophy. In the 1930s, Huxley also started writing and editing works exploring pacifism, including Ends and Means and Pacifism and Philosophy. 

Hollywood (1937-1962)

  • After Many a Summer (1939)
  • Time Must Have a Stop (1944)
  • Ape and Essence (1948)
  • The Genius and the Goddess (1955)
  • Island (1962)
  • Grey Eminence (1941)
  • The Perennial Philosophy (1945)
  • The Doors of Perception (1954)
  • Heaven and Hell (1956)
  • Brave New World Revisited (1958)


  • Pride and Prejudice (1940)
  • Jane Eyre (1943)
  • Marie Curie (1943)
  • A Woman’s Vengeance (1948)

Huxley and his family moved to Hollywood in 1937. His friend, the writer and historian Gerald Heard, joined them. He spent a brief time in Taos, New Mexico, where he wrote the book of essays Ends and Means (1937), which explored topics such as nationalism, ethics, and religion.

Heard introduced Huxley to Vedanta, a philosophy centered on Upanishad and the principle of ahimsa (do no harm). In 1938, Huxley befriended Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher with a background in theosophy, and throughout the years, the two debated and corresponded on philosophical matters. In 1954, Huxley penned the introduction to Krishnamurti’s The First and Last Freedom. 

As a Vedantist, he joined the circle of Hindu Swami Prabhavananda and introduced fellow English expatriate writer Christopher Isherwood to the philosophy. Between 1941 and 1960, Huxley contributed 48 articles to  Vedanta and the West , a periodical published by the society. Immediately after the end of World War II, Huxley published The Perennial Philosophy, which combined passages of Eastern and Western philosophy and mysticism. 

During the war years, Huxley became a high-earning screenwriter in Hollywood, working for Metro Goldwyn Mayer. He used much of his paycheck to transport Jewish people and dissidents from Hitler’s Germany to the U.S. 

Huxley and his wife Maria applied for United States Citizenship in 1953. However, given that he refused to bear arms and could not claim he did so for religious ideals, he withdrew his application, but remained in the United States. 

In 1954, he experimented with the hallucinogenic drug mescaline, which he related in his work The Doors of Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956), and continued using a controlled amount of these substances until his death. His wife died of cancer in February 1955. The following year, Huxley married the Italian-born violinist and psychotherapist Laura Archera, the author of the biography This Timeless Moment.

His later work focused on expanding and rectifying the grim universe he portrayed in Brave New World . His book-length essay Brave New World Revisited (1958) weighs in on whether the world moved closer or further away from the World State Utopia he conjured; Island (1962) his final novel, by contrast, had a more utopian view of science and technology, as on the island of Pala, mankind does not have to bend to them.

Huxley was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 1960. When Huxley was on his deathbed, he was unable to speak due to the advanced state of his cancer, so he requested "LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular" to his wife Laura Archera in writing. She recounted this moment in her biography This Timeless Moment , and related that she gave him the first injection at 11:20 a.m. and a second dose an hour later. Huxley died at 5:20 p.m. on November 22, 1963.

Literary Style and Themes 

Growing up in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, Huxley was part of a generation that was fascinated and had great trust in the scientific progress. The era of the 2nd industrial revolution brought about a higher standard of living, medical breakthroughs, and a trust in the fact that progress could improve lives for good. 

In his novels, plays, poems, travelogues, and essays, Huxley was able to employ low key ironic humor and wit, as it’s apparent in his early novel Crome Yellow (1921) and in the essay “Books for the Journey,” where he observed how bibliophiles tended to overpack during their travels. Yet, his prose was not devoid of poetic flourishes; these emerged in his essay “Meditation on the Moon,” which was a reflection on what the moon stands for in a scientific and in a literary or artistic context, as an attempt to reconcile the intellectual traditions in his family, which included both poets and scientists.

Huxley’s fiction and nonfiction works were controversial. They were praised for their scientific rigor, detached irony, and their panoply of ideas. His early novels satirized the frivolous nature of the English upper class in the 1920s, while his later novels dealt with moral issues and ethical dilemmas in the face of progress, as well as the human quest for meaning and fulfillment. In fact, his novels evolved into more complexity. Brave New World (1932) perhaps his most famous work, explored the tension between individual freedom, social stability, and happiness in a seemingly utopian society; and Eyeless in Gaza (1936) saw an Englishman marked by his cynicism turn to Eastern philosophy to breach through his jadedness.

Entheogens are a recurring element in Huxley’s work. In Brave New World, the population of the World State achieves a mindless, hedonistic happiness through a beverage named soma. In 1953, Huxley himself experimented with the hallucinogenic drug mescaline, which, allegedly, enhanced his sense of color, and he related his experience in The Doors of Perception, which made him a figurehead in 60s counterculture.

Aldous Huxley was a polarizing figure who was both hailed as an emancipator of the modern mind and condemned as an irresponsible free-thinker and an erudite showoff. Rock group The Doors, whose front man Jim Morrison was an enthusiastic drug user, owes its name to Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception.

Huxley died on November 22, 1963, hours after the assassination of president John F. Kennedy . Both deaths, unwittingly, heralded the rise of counterculture, where conformity and belief in the government were questioned.

  • Bloom, Harold.  Aldous Huxleys Brave New World . Blooms Literary Criticism, 2011.
  • Firchow, Peter.  Aldous Huxley: Satirist and Novelist . University of Minnesota Press, 1972.
  • Firchow, Peter Edgerly, et al.  Reluctant Modernists: Aldous Huxley and Some Contemporaries: a Collection of Essays . Lit, 2003.
  • “In Our Time, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.”  BBC Radio 4 , BBC, 9 Apr. 2009,
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Early Years

Aldous Huxley was born July 26, 1894, in the village of Godalming, Surrey, England. The third son of Leonard Huxley, a writer, editor, and teacher, and Julia Arnold, also a teacher, the young Aldous grew up in a family of well-connected, well-known writers, scientists, and educators.

At Aldous' birth, the Huxley family and their relatives already commanded literary and philosophical attention in Victorian England. Huxley's grandfather, biologist T. H. Huxley, gained recognition in the nineteenth century as the writer who introduced Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to a wide public and coined the word "agnostic." The elder Huxley's writing contributed to the growing debate on science and religion, a theme that would capture the imagination of his grandson, Aldous.

Huxley's mother was a niece of poet and essayist Matthew Arnold, who expressed the moral struggles of the modern age and the retreat of a religion-based culture. Matthew's father, Thomas Arnold, head of Rugby School, had presided with earnest devotion over the theory and practice of education in his time. Thus Aldous grew up in an atmosphere in which thought on science, religion, and education informed and even dominated family life.

Living up to the expectations of "Grandpater," as T. H. Huxley was known in his family, constituted a full-time, exhausting job for the children — Aldous included. Academic and professional brilliance was expected as a matter of course, with no excuses allowed. A family tendency toward depression compounded by this pressure may have contributed to the suicide of Trevenan, Aldous' elder brother.

At sixteen, the sudden onset of keratitis punctate , an eye disease, left Aldous nearly blind and almost ruined his own chances for success. Fortunately, surgery corrected some of his vision, but Huxley would suffer from complications in vision for the rest of his life.

Like all the sons of his family, Huxley attended Eton, a prestigious preparatory school, and Balliol College, Oxford. His education, then, represented a privileged road to power for wealthy and well-born British men who sometimes displayed real brilliance. Huxley was among the best of them, certainly. Poor sight caused by the eye disease prevented his pursuit of his first career choice, medicine, but he threw himself into study of literature, reading with the help of a magnifying glass. In 1915, Huxley took a First (highest honors) in English Literature.

A less formal, but nonetheless important part of Huxley's education was his regular attendance at Lady Ottoline Morrell's get-togethers, which provided many literary, artistic, and political reformers and experimenters the chance to meet and talk. Here Huxley met novelist Virginia Woolf, economist John Maynard Keynes, and critics Bertrand Russell and Clive Bell — some of the most important writers and thinkers of the time. Huxley's early exposure to the ideas of such a diverse and progressive group deeply influenced his world-view and his writing.

After taking his degree at Oxford, Huxley returned to Eton to teach. Among his pupils was Eric Blair, who would later write such classics as 1984 and Animal Farm under the pseudonym "George Orwell."

From 1919 to 1921, Huxley worked as an editor on the London journal Athenaeum , one of the best-known publications of the time. Huxley also contributed to Vanity Fair and Vogue before devoting himself entirely to his own fiction and essay writing in 1924.

Literary Writing

Huxley's first published work was a collection of his poetry, The Burning Wheel (1916), written when he was still in his early twenties. French novelist Marcel Proust praised Huxley's early efforts, and Huxley seemed destined for life as a poet. But with the publication of his first two novels, Crome Yellow (1921) and Antic Hay (1923), Huxley emerged as a particularly witty chronicler of modern life among the educated and pretentious.

Huxley further solidified his reputation as a satirist with the novel Point Counter Point (1928), a scathing study of the breakdown of commonly held social values. Huxley followed up with another satire, which would prove to be his most popular work — Brave New World (1932).

Like his previous novels, Brave New World is a "novel of ideas," in which the themes the author wishes to explore take center stage, determining the action as well as the characterization. Brave New World continued in Huxley's familiar irreverent fictional style, showing readers the absurdity of strongly held but little examined beliefs.

The work also marked a change in Huxley himself. The setting of Brave New World — a future London rather than the familiar country houses and town houses of his previous fiction — seems to have broken Huxley out of some habits of mind. In Brave New World , Huxley takes the problem of evil much more seriously than in the past. The satirist had begun to evolve into the social philosopher.

After the publication of Brave New World , Huxley left England, living with his wife, Maria, first in New Mexico — the site of the Savage Reservation in Brave New World — and later in California, where surgery restored much of his vision.

In his new home, Huxley became involved in the study and practice of mysticism. His new philosophical outlook informed his novel Eyeless in Gaza (1936), which promoted pacifism on the eve of World War II. After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939) makes the case for the emptiness of materialism. Gradually, Huxley moved toward mystical writings, far from the tone of his early satire. The Perennial Philosophy (1945) and The Doors of Perception (1954) represent Huxley's non-fictional expression of his interests, including even experimentation with psychedelic drugs.

In Los Angeles, Huxley wrote screenplays for film versions of fictional classics such as Jane Eyre , Pride and Prejudice , and Alice in Wonderland . He also continued writing fiction, notably Ape and Essence (1948), a futuristic fiction set in Los Angeles after a nuclear war. With Grey Eminence (1941) and The Devils of Loudon (1952), Huxley looked backward to historical events to examine what he believed to be the hypocrisy of organized religion. In addition to his fiction and screenplays, the planning and writing of biographies, essays, and other works of non-fiction occupied him constantly during these years.

Huxley's last novel, Island (1962), returns to the theme of the future he once explored so memorably in Brave New World . The later novel, in which Huxley tried to create a positive vision of the future, failed to come up to readers' expectations. Brave New World Revisited , a series of essays addressing the themes of his early novel, represents a more successful rethinking of future (and present) social challenges.

Huxley died of cancer in California on November 22, 1963. Although his novels — especially Brave New World — still enjoyed great popularity, Huxley's death received little notice in the media at the time. The nation's shock over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy overshadowed news of the writer's death.

Honors and Awards

Huxley won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction from the University of Edinburgh in 1939 for his novel After Many a Summer Dies the Swan . In 1959, he received the Award of Merit and Gold Medal from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and accepted an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of California. The year before his death, he received the Companion of Literature from the British Royal Society of Literature.

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Aldous Huxley

English writer and philosopher (1894–1963) / from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, dear wikiwand ai, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:.

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Aldous Leonard Huxley ( / ˈ ɔː l d ə s / AWL-dəs ; 26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and philosopher. [1] [2] [3] [4] His bibliography spans nearly 50 books, [5] [6] including novels and non-fiction works, as well as essays, narratives, and poems.

Born into the prominent Huxley family , he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford , with an undergraduate degree in English literature . Early in his career, he published short stories and poetry and edited the literary magazine Oxford Poetry , before going on to publish travel writing , satire, and screenplays. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. [7] By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the foremost intellectuals of his time. [8] He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature nine times, [9] and was elected Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature in 1962. [10]

Huxley was a pacifist . [11] He grew interested in philosophical mysticism , [11] [12] [13] as well as universalism , [11] [14] addressing these subjects in his works such as The Perennial Philosophy (1945), which illustrates commonalities between Western and Eastern mysticism, and The Doors of Perception (1954), which interprets his own psychedelic experience with mescaline . In his most famous novel Brave New World (1932) and his final novel Island (1962), he presented his visions of dystopia and utopia , respectively.

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Huxley was born in Godalming , Surrey, England, in 1894. [15] He was the third son of the writer and schoolmaster Leonard Huxley , who edited The Cornhill Magazine , [16] and his first wife, Julia Arnold , who founded Prior's Field School . Julia was the niece of poet and critic Matthew Arnold and the sister of Mrs. Humphry Ward . Julia named him Aldous after a character in one of her sister's novels. [17] Aldous was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley , the zoologist , agnostic , and controversialist who had often been called "Darwin's Bulldog". His brother Julian Huxley and half-brother Andrew Huxley also became outstanding biologists. Aldous had another brother, Noel Trevenen Huxley (1889–1914), who took his own life after a period of clinical depression . [18]

As a child, Huxley's nickname was "Ogie", short for "Ogre". [19] He was described by his brother, Julian, as someone who frequently contemplated "the strangeness of things". [19] According to his cousin and contemporary Gervas Huxley, he had an early interest in drawing . [19]

Huxley's education began in his father's well-equipped botanical laboratory, after which he enrolled at Hillside School near Godalming. [20] [21] He was taught there by his own mother for several years until she became terminally ill. After Hillside he went on to Eton College . His mother died in 1908, when he was 14 (his father later remarried). He contracted the eye disease keratitis punctata in 1911; this "left [him] practically blind for two to three years" [22] and "ended his early dreams of becoming a doctor". [23] In October 1913, Huxley entered Balliol College, Oxford , where he studied English literature. [24] He volunteered for the British Army in January 1916, for the Great War ; however, he was rejected on health grounds, being half-blind in one eye. [24] His eyesight later partly recovered. He edited Oxford Poetry in 1916, and in June of that year graduated BA with first class honours . [24] His brother Julian wrote:

I believe his blindness was a blessing in disguise. For one thing, it put paid to his idea of taking up medicine as a career   ... His uniqueness lay in his universalism. He was able to take all knowledge for his province. [25]

Following his years at Balliol, Huxley, being financially indebted to his father, decided to find employment. He taught French for a year at Eton College , where Eric Blair (who was to take the pen name George Orwell ) and Steven Runciman were among his pupils. He was mainly remembered as being an incompetent schoolmaster unable to keep order in class. Nevertheless, Blair and others spoke highly of his excellent command of language. [26]

Huxley also worked for a time during the 1920s at Brunner and Mond , an advanced chemical plant in Billingham in County Durham, northeast England. According to an introduction to his science fiction novel Brave New World (1932), the experience he had there of "an ordered universe in a world of planless incoherence" was an important source for the novel. [27]

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Huxley completed his first (unpublished) novel at the age of 17 and began writing seriously in his early twenties, establishing himself as a successful writer and social satirist. His first published novels were social satires, Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925), and Point Counter Point (1928). Brave New World (1932) was his fifth novel and first dystopian work. In the 1920s, he was also a contributor to Vanity Fair and British Vogue magazines. [28]

Contact with the Bloomsbury Set

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During the First World War , Huxley spent much of his time at Garsington Manor near Oxford, home of Lady Ottoline Morrell , working as a farm labourer. While at the Manor, he met several Bloomsbury Group figures, including Bertrand Russell , Alfred North Whitehead , [29] and Clive Bell . Later, in Crome Yellow (1921), he caricatured the Garsington lifestyle. Jobs were very scarce, but in 1919, John Middleton Murry was reorganising the Athenaeum and invited Huxley to join the staff. He accepted immediately, and quickly married the Belgian refugee Maria Nys (1899–1955), also at Garsington. [30] They lived with their young son in Italy part of the time during the 1920s, where Huxley would visit his friend D. H. Lawrence . Following Lawrence's death in 1930 (he and Maria were present at his death in Provence), Huxley edited Lawrence's letters (1932). [31] Very early in 1929, in London, Huxley met Gerald Heard , a writer and broadcaster, philosopher and interpreter of contemporary science. [32]

Works of this period included novels about the dehumanising aspects of scientific progress , (his magnum opus Brave New World ), and on pacifist themes ( Eyeless in Gaza ). [33] In Brave New World , set in a dystopian London, Huxley portrays a society operating on the principles of mass production and Pavlovian conditioning . [34] Huxley was strongly influenced by F. Matthias Alexander , on whom he based a character in Eyeless in Gaza . [35]

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During this period, Huxley began to write and edit non-fiction works on pacifist issues, including Ends and Means (1937), An Encyclopedia of Pacifism , and Pacifism and Philosophy , and was an active member of the Peace Pledge Union . [36]

Life in the United States

In 1937, Huxley moved to Hollywood with his wife Maria, son Matthew Huxley , and friend Gerald Heard. Cyril Connolly wrote, of the two intellectuals (Huxley and Heard) in the late 1930s, "all European avenues had been exhausted in the search for a way forward – politics, art, science – pitching them both toward the US in 1937." [37] Huxley lived in the U.S., mainly southern California , [38] [39] [40] until his death, and for a time in Taos, New Mexico , where he wrote Ends and Means (1937). The book contains tracts on war , [41] inequality , [42] religion [43] and ethics . [44]

Heard introduced Huxley to Vedanta ( Upanishad-centered philosophy ), meditation , and vegetarianism through the principle of ahimsa . In 1938, Huxley befriended Jiddu Krishnamurti , whose teachings he greatly admired. Huxley and Krishnamurti entered into an enduring exchange (sometimes edging on debate) over many years, with Krishnamurti representing the more rarefied, detached, ivory-tower perspective and Huxley, with his pragmatic concerns, the more socially and historically informed position. Huxley wrote a foreword to Krishnamurti's quintessential statement, The First and Last Freedom (1954). [45]

Huxley became a Vedantist in the group formed around Hindu Swami Prabhavananda , and subsequently introduced Christopher Isherwood to the circle. Not long afterwards, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy , which discussed the teachings of renowned mystics of the world. [46] [47]

Huxley became a close friend of Remsen Bird, president of Occidental College . He spent much time at the college in the Eagle Rock neighbourhood of Los Angeles. The college appears as "Tarzana College" in his satirical novel After Many a Summer (1939). The novel won Huxley a British literary award, the 1939 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. [48] Huxley also incorporated Bird into the novel. [49]

During this period, Huxley earned a substantial income as a Hollywood screenwriter; Christopher Isherwood, in his autobiography My Guru and His Disciple , states that Huxley earned more than $3,000 per week (approximately $50,000 [50] in 2020 dollars) as a screenwriter, and that he used much of it to transport Jewish and left-wing writer and artist refugees from Hitler's Germany to the US. [51] In March 1938, Huxley's friend Anita Loos , a novelist and screenwriter, put him in touch with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which hired him for Madame Curie which was originally to star Greta Garbo and be directed by George Cukor . (Eventually, the film was completed by MGM in 1943 with a different director and cast.) Huxley received screen credit for Pride and Prejudice (1940) and was paid for his work on a number of other films, including Jane Eyre (1944). He was commissioned by Walt Disney in 1945 to write a script based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the biography of the story's author, Lewis Carroll . The script was not used, however. [52]

Huxley wrote an introduction to the posthumous publication of J. D. Unwin 's 1940 book Hopousia or The Sexual and Economic Foundations of a New Society . [53]

On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four , congratulating him on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter, he predicted:

"Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narcohypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience." [54]

In 1953, Huxley and Maria applied for United States citizenship and presented themselves for examination. When Huxley refused to bear arms for the U.S. and would not state that his objections were based on religious ideals, the only excuse allowed under the McCarran Act , the judge had to adjourn the proceedings. [55] [56] He withdrew his application. Nevertheless, he remained in the U.S. In 1959, Huxley turned down an offer to be made a Knight Bachelor by the Macmillan government without giving a reason; his brother Julian had been knighted in 1958, while his brother Andrew would be knighted in 1974. [57]

In the fall semester of 1960 Huxley was invited by Professor Huston Smith to be the Carnegie Visiting professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [58] As part of the MIT centennial program of events organised by the Department of Humanities, Huxley presented a series of lectures titled, "What a Piece of Work is a Man" which concerned history, language, and art. [59]

Robert S. de Ropp (scientist, humanitarian, and author), who had spent time with Huxley in England in the 1930s, connected with him again in the U.S. in the early 1960s and wrote that "the enormous intellect, the beautifully modulated voice, the gentle objectivity, all were unchanged. He was one of the most highly civilized human beings I had ever met." [60]

Late-in-life perspectives

Biographer Harold H. Watts wrote that Huxley's writings in the "final and extended period of his life" are "the work of a man who is meditating on the central problems of many modern men". [61] Huxley had deeply felt apprehensions about the future the developed world might make for itself. From these, he made some warnings in his writings and talks. In a 1958 televised interview conducted by journalist Mike Wallace , Huxley outlined several major concerns: the difficulties and dangers of world overpopulation; the tendency towards distinctly hierarchical social organisation; the crucial importance of evaluating the use of technology in mass societies susceptible to persuasion; the tendency to promote modern politicians to a naive public as well-marketed commodities. [62] In a December 1962 letter to brother Julian, summarizing a paper he had presented in Santa Barbara, he wrote, "What I said was that if we didn't pretty quickly start thinking of human problems in ecological terms rather than in terms of power politics we should very soon be in a bad way." [63]

Huxley's engagement with Eastern wisdom traditions was entirely compatible with a strong appreciation of modern science . Biographer Milton Birnbaum wrote that Huxley "ended by embracing both science and Eastern religion". [64] In his last book, Literature and Science , Huxley wrote that "The ethical and philosophical implications of modern science are more Buddhist than Christian...." [65] In "A Philosopher's Visionary Prediction", published one month before he died, Huxley endorsed training in general semantics and "the nonverbal world of culturally uncontaminated consciousness," writing that "We must learn how to be mentally silent, we must cultivate the art of pure receptivity.... [T]he individual must learn to decondition himself, must be able to cut holes in the fence of verbalized symbols that hems him in." [66]

Association with Vedanta

Beginning in 1939 and continuing until his death in 1963, Huxley had an extensive association with the Vedanta Society of Southern California , founded and headed by Swami Prabhavananda . Together with Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood and other followers, he was initiated by the Swami and was taught meditation and spiritual practices. [14]

In 1944, Huxley wrote the introduction to the Bhagavad Gita – The Song of God , [67] translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, which was published by the Vedanta Society of Southern California.

From 1941 until 1960, Huxley contributed 48 articles to Vedanta and the West , published by the society. He also served on the editorial board with Isherwood, Heard, and playwright John Van Druten from 1951 through 1962.

Huxley also occasionally lectured at the Hollywood and Santa Barbara Vedanta temples. Two of those lectures have been released on CD: Knowledge and Understanding and Who Are We? from 1955. Nonetheless, Huxley's agnosticism, together with his speculative propensity, made it difficult for him to fully embrace any form of institutionalised religion. [68]

Psychedelic drug use and mystical experiences

In early 1953, Huxley had his first experience with the psychedelic drug mescaline . Huxley had initiated a correspondence with Doctor Humphry Osmond , a British psychiatrist then employed in a Canadian institution, and eventually asked him to supply a dose of mescaline; Osmond obliged and supervised Huxley's session in southern California. After the publication of The Doors of Perception , in which he recounted this experience, Huxley and Swami Prabhavananda disagreed about the meaning and importance of the psychedelic drug experience, which may have caused the relationship to cool, but Huxley continued to write articles for the society's journal, lecture at the temple, and attend social functions. Huxley later had an experience on mescaline that he considered more profound than those detailed in The Doors of Perception .

Huxley wrote that "The mystical experience is doubly valuable; it is valuable because it gives the experiencer a better understanding of himself and the world and because it may help him to lead a less self-centered and more creative life." [69]

Having tried LSD in the 1950s, he became an advisor to Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert in their early-1960s research work with psychedelic drugs at Harvard. Personality differences led Huxley to distance himself from Leary, when Huxley grew concerned that Leary had become too keen on promoting the drugs rather indiscriminately, even playing the rebel with a fondness for publicity. [70] [71]

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Differing accounts exist about the details of the quality of Huxley's eyesight at specific points in his life. Circa 1939, Huxley encountered the Bates method , in which he was instructed by Margaret Darst Corbett . In 1940, Huxley relocated from Hollywood to a 40-acre (16   ha) ranchito in the high desert hamlet of Llano, California , in northern Los Angeles County . Huxley then said that his sight improved dramatically with the Bates method and the extreme and pure natural lighting of the southwestern American desert. He reported that, for the first time in more than 25 years, he was able to read without glasses and without strain. He even tried driving a car along the dirt road beside the ranch. He wrote a book about his experiences with the Bates method, The Art of Seeing , which was published in 1942 (U.S.), 1943 (UK). The book contained some generally disputed theories, and its publication created a growing degree of popular controversy about Huxley's eyesight. [72]

It was, and is, widely believed that Huxley was nearly blind since the illness in his teens , despite the partial recovery that had enabled him to study at Oxford. For example, some ten years after publication of The Art of Seeing , in 1952, Bennett Cerf was present when Huxley spoke at a Hollywood banquet, wearing no glasses and apparently reading his paper from the lectern without difficulty:

Then suddenly he faltered—and the disturbing truth became obvious. He wasn't reading his address at all. He had learned it by heart. To refresh his memory he brought the paper closer and closer to his eyes. When it was only an inch or so away he still couldn't read it, and had to fish for a magnifying glass in his pocket to make the typing visible to him. It was an agonising moment. [73]

Brazilian author João Ubaldo Ribeiro , who as a young journalist spent several evenings in the Huxleys' company in the late 1950s, wrote that Huxley had said to him, with a wry smile: "I can hardly see at all. And I don't give a damn, really." [74]

On the other hand, Huxley's second wife Laura later emphasised in her biographical account, This Timeless Moment : "One of the great achievements of his life: that of having regained his sight." After revealing a letter she wrote to the Los Angeles Times disclaiming the label of Huxley as a "poor fellow who can hardly see" by Walter C. Alvarez , she tempered her statement:

Although I feel it was an injustice to treat Aldous as though he were blind, it is true there were many indications of his impaired vision. For instance, although Aldous did not wear glasses, he would quite often use a magnifying lens. [75]

Laura Huxley proceeded to elaborate a few nuances of inconsistency peculiar to Huxley's vision. Her account, in this respect, agrees with the following sample of Huxley's own words from The Art of Seeing :

The most characteristic fact about the functioning of the total organism, or any part of the organism, is that it is not constant, but highly variable. [76]

Nevertheless, the topic of Huxley's eyesight has continued to endure similar, significant controversy. [77] American popular science author Steven Johnson , in his book Mind Wide Open , quotes Huxley about his difficulties with visual encoding :

I am and, for as long as I can remember, I have always been a poor visualizer. Words, even the pregnant words of poets, do not evoke pictures in my mind . No hypnagogic visions greet me on the verge of sleep. When I recall something, the memory does not present itself to me as a vividly seen event or object. By an effort of the will, I can evoke a not very vivid image of what happened yesterday afternoon   ... [78] [79]

Personal life

Huxley married on 10 July 1919 [80] Maria Nys (10 September 1899 – 12 February 1955), a Belgian epidemiologist from Bellem , [80] a village near Aalter , he met at Garsington , Oxfordshire, in 1919. They had one child, Matthew Huxley (19 April 1920 – 10 February 2005), who had a career as an author, anthropologist, and prominent epidemiologist . [81] In 1955, Maria Huxley died of cancer. [23]

In 1956, Huxley married Laura Archera (1911–2007), also an author, as well as a violinist and psychotherapist. [23] She wrote This Timeless Moment , a biography of Huxley. She told the story of their marriage through Mary Ann Braubach's 2010 documentary, Huxley on Huxley . [82]

Huxley was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 1960; in the years that followed, with his health deteriorating, he wrote the utopian novel Island , [83] and gave lectures on "Human Potentialities" both at the UCSF Medical Center and at the Esalen Institute . These lectures were fundamental to the beginning of the Human Potential Movement . [84]

Huxley was a close friend of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Rosalind Rajagopal , and was involved in the creation of the Happy Valley School, now Besant Hill School , of Happy Valley, in Ojai, California .

The most substantial collection of Huxley's few remaining papers, following the destruction of most in the 1961 Bel Air Fire , is at the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles . [85] Some are also at the Stanford University Libraries . [86]

On 9 April 1962 Huxley was informed he was elected Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature , the senior literary organisation in Britain, and he accepted the title via letter on 28 April 1962. [87] The correspondence between Huxley and the society is kept at the Cambridge University Library . [87] The society invited Huxley to appear at a banquet and give a lecture at Somerset House , London, in June 1963. Huxley wrote a draft of the speech he intended to give at the society; however, his deteriorating health meant he was not able to attend. [87]

On his deathbed, unable to speak owing to advanced laryngeal cancer, Huxley made a written request to his wife Laura for " LSD , 100 µg , intramuscular ." According to her account of his death [88] in This Timeless Moment , she obliged with an injection at 11:20   a.m. and a second dose an hour later; Huxley died aged 69, at 5:20   p.m. PST on 22 November 1963. [89]

Media coverage of Huxley's death, along with that of fellow British author C. S. Lewis , was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day, less than seven hours before Huxley's death. [90] In a 2009 article for New York magazine titled "The Eclipsed Celebrity Death Club", Christopher Bonanos wrote:

The championship trophy for badly timed death, though, goes to a pair of British writers. Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World , died the same day as C. S. Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia series. Unfortunately for both of their legacies, that day was November 22, 1963, just as John Kennedy's motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository . Huxley, at least, made it interesting: At his request, his wife shot him up with LSD a couple of hours before the end, and he tripped his way out of this world. [91]

This coincidence served as the basis for Peter Kreeft 's book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley , which imagines a conversation among the three men taking place in Purgatory following their deaths. [92]

Huxley's memorial service took place in London in December 1963; it was led by his elder brother Julian. On 27 October 1971, [93] his ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, Guildford , Surrey, England. [94]

Huxley had been a long-time friend of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky , who dedicated his last orchestral composition to Huxley. What became Variations: Aldous Huxley in memoriam was begun in July 1963, completed in October 1964, and premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on 17 April 1965. [95] [96]

  • 1939: James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for After Many a Summer Dies the Swan ).
  • 1959: American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit (for Brave New World ) .
  • 1962: Companion of Literature ( Royal Society of Literature ) [97]


In 2021, Huxley was one of six British writers commemorated on a series of UK postage stamps issued by Royal Mail to celebrate British science fiction. [98] One classic science fiction novel from each author was depicted, with Brave New World chosen to represent Huxley. [98]



  • A Woman's Vengeance (1948), film directed by Zoltan Korda , based on novelette " The Gioconda Smile "
  • Prelude to Fame (1950), film directed by Fergus McDonell , based on novelette "Young Archimedes"
  • The World of Light (1950), TV movie, based on play The World of Light: A Comedy in Three Acts
  • Das Lächeln der Gioconda (1953), TV movie directed by Werner Völger, based on play Mortal Coils: Play
  • Das Lächeln der Gioconda (1958), TV movie directed by Michael Kehlmann , based on novelette "The Gioconda Smile"
  • Das Genie und die Göttin (1959), TV movie directed by Walter Rilla , based on play The Genius and the Goddess
  • The Gioconda Smile (1963), TV movie directed by Patrick Barton , based on novelette "The Gioconda Smile"
  • Das Lächeln der Gioconda (1966), TV movie directed by Ilo von Jankó, based on novelette "The Gioconda Smile"
  • Mona Lisan hymy (1966), TV movie directed by Jukka Sipilä , based on novelette "The Gioconda Smile"
  • After Many a Summer (1967), TV movie directed by Douglas Camfield , based on novel After Many a Summer
  • Point Counter Point (1968), miniseries directed by Rex Tucker , based on novel Point Counter Point
  • Úsmev Mony Lízy (1968), TV movie directed by Bedřich Kramosil, based on novelette "The Gioconda Smile"
  • Die Teufel von Loudun (1969), TV movie directed by Rolf Liebermann , based on novel The Devils of Loudun
  • Il sorriso della Gioconda (1969), TV movie directed by Enrico Colosimo, based on play Mortal Coils: Play
  • Eyeless in Gaza (1971), miniseries directed by James Cellan Jones , based on novel Eyeless in Gaza
  • The Devils (1971), film directed by Ken Russell , based on novel The Devils of Loudun
  • Effetti speciali (1978), TV movie directed by Gianni Amelio , based on a novel
  • Il piccolo Archimede (1979), TV movie directed by Gianni Amelio , based on novelette "Young Archimedes"
  • Brave New World (1980), TV movie directed by Burt Brinckerhoff , based on novel Brave New World
  • The Holy Family (1994), short film directed by Ulrich Weis, based on short story "The Claxtons"
  • Brave New World (1998), TV movie directed by Leslie Libman and Larry Williams , based on novel Brave New World
  • Stardust (2002), short film directed by Roque Azcuaga, based on a novel
  • Brave New World (2010), miniseries directed by Leonard Menchiari, based on novel Brave New World
  • Brave New World (2014), fan film directed by Nathan Hyde, based on novel Brave New World
  • The Alien (2017), short film directed by William le Bras and Gabriel Richard, based on poem "The Alien"
  • Brave New World (2020), series created by David Wiener, based on novel Brave New World
  • Die Teufel von Loudun (2022), film directed by Christoph Engel, based on novel The Devils of Loudun
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The Talented Mr. Huxley

The brilliant, eclectic thinker who wrote the classic dystopian novel  brave new world ..

Black and white portrait of Aldous Huxley.

Aldous Huxley in 1934.

—© Pictoral Press Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

At six feet four and a half inches, Aldous Huxley was perhaps the tallest figure in English letters, his height so striking that contemporaries sometimes viewed him as a freak of nature. British novelist Christopher Isherwood found Huxley “too tall. I felt an enormous zoological separation from him.” Virginia Woolf described him as “infinitely long” and referred to him as “that gigantic grasshopper.”

Everything about Huxley seemed large. “During his first years his head was proportionately enormous, so that he could not walk until he was two because he was apt to topple over,” writes biographer Sybille Bedford. Shortly before his death, Huxley confided to a friend that his childhood nickname had been “Ogie,” a substitute for “Ogre.”

But this seems like the kind of exaggeration children so often use to rib each other. In pictures, Huxley looks imposing, but far from ugly. Anita Loos, the American screenwriter, playwright, and author, was impressed by Huxley’s “physical beauty . . . the head of an angel drawn by William Blake.”

His voice, preserved in recordings easily sampled online, was also part of his charm. Huxley spoke like Laurence Olivier—with exacting British diction and an unerring verbal accuracy that few people, then or now, possess in casual conversation. He talked in silver sentences, treating conversation as a form of theater, or even literature.

The largeness of the man and the precision of his language continue to live more than a half a century after his death. Every year, another generation of young students gets that sense of him from  Brave New World , the 1932 novel that’s become assigned reading for millions of middle schoolers.

Taking its title from an ironic line from  The Tempest  by Shakespeare,  Brave New World  envisions a fictional society in which infants are grown in laboratories, and people become so conditioned to consumer comforts that they no longer question their leaders. Amid this malaise lingers a dissident regarded as a savage because he still embraces Shakespeare, his passion for poetry suggesting an indulgence of feeling that, in this brave new world of tomorrow, seems dangerously taboo. Readers still argue about the degree to which Huxley’s grimly conceived future has become the human present, and the emergence of test-tube babies, television, and online culture invite obvious parallels to  Brave New World .

Huxley transcribes the emotionally arid landscape of  Brave New World  into visual terms, translating the dormancy of the human soul into a city devoid of bright colors. In his description of a laboratory where new citizens are conceived, he writes:

The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north . . . for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. . . . The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-colored rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost.

Huxley also wrote poetry, plays, travelogs, essays, philosophy, short stories, and many novels. Sadly, the overshadowing fame of  Brave New World  has tended to obscure the range of his talent.

Huxley came from one of England’s great intellectual families: He was born in Surrey, England, the son of Leonard Huxley, editor of the influential  Cornhill  magazine, and Julia Arnold, niece of the legendary poet and essayist Matthew Arnold. Huxley was the grandson of T. H. Huxley, a scientist and friend of Charles Darwin. Huxley’s brother Julian was a noted biologist and writer, and his half-brother Andrew was a Nobel laureate in physiology.

Huxley appeared destined to work in science, too, initially planning to become a physician. But, in 1911, when he was 16, he suffered an eye infection that left him nearly blind for almost two years. His sight was so compromised that he learned to read in Braille. He eventually recovered some vision, initially using strong eyeglasses to cope. With his sight damaged, a career in medicine or science seemed impractical, so Huxley turned to writing.

“He rose above the disability but he never minimized the importance of the experience in his life,” notes biographer Nicholas Murray. Huxley was fascinated by how adjustments in the senses greatly altered how we perceive reality, a theme that would deeply inform some of his later books.

His struggle with vision was the subject of a 1943 book,  The Art of Seeing , in which Huxley championed the controversial theories of Dr. W. H. Bates, who asserted that eyes could be improved with training exercises instead of prescription lenses. Huxley claimed that the Bates Method worked for him, though it still remains far outside the medical mainstream.

Just how much Huxley was able to see is uncertain, although his eyes were obviously compromised, forcing him to compensate in creative ways. Julian Huxley thought that his brother developed a Herculean memory so he could better retain what he labored so hard to read. “With his one good eye, he managed to skim through learned journals, popular articles and books of every kind,” Julian recalled. “He was apparently able to take them in at a glance, and what is more, to remember their essential content. His intellectual memory was phenomenal, doubtless trained by a tenacious will to surmount the original horror of threatened blindness.”

Early in his writing career, Huxley worked as a journalist and teacher, including a stint at Eton instructing a young Eric Blair, who would eventually become known to the world as George Orwell.

Published in 1949, nearly two decades after Huxley’s masterpiece, Orwell’s  1984 depicted a world in which the state imposes its will by force. Huxley wrote a fan letter to Orwell after  1984  appeared, complimenting him on “how fine and how profoundly important the book is.” But Huxley offered a polite dissent from Orwell’s premise: “I feel that the nightmare of  Nineteen Eighty-Four  is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in  Brave New World .” Huxley thought it more likely that in the long run, despots would find it efficient to coddle rather than coerce humans into conformity.

When Huxley published his first novel,  Crome Yellow , in 1921, he gained attention not as a sober prophet of human oppression, but a light satirist of the English gentry. “What makes  Crome Yellow  . . . so appealing is its restfulness,” literary essayist Michael Dirda has observed. “There is no plot to speak of. Nothing dramatic happens. Instead, the book sustains interest almost solely through its style, a low-keyed ironic wit, and the evocation of a leisurely summer of cultivated country-house pleasures. Young people make love and their elders discourse about life; afternoons are spent in walking or painting, evenings taken up with reading aloud and conversation.”

The fictional house of the novel’s title appears to be based on Garsington, the estate where Lady Ottoline Morrell hosted Bloomsbury-era artists and writers, including Huxley. At Garsington, Huxley met the beautiful Maria Nys, a Belgian refugee displaced by World War I. They wed in 1919, and their marriage, perhaps reflecting its origins in Bloomsbury avant-garde society, was unconventional. Maria was bisexual, and the Huxleys at one point entered into a romantic triangle with a mutual friend, Mary Hutchinson. Unusual though such an arrangement might have been, the Huxleys appeared devoted to each other until Maria’s death in 1955. Their household grew to include one son, Matthew, born in April 1920.

“She devoted herself wholly to him,” Murray writes of Maria’s relationship with Aldous. “Because of his poor eyesight, she read to him, endlessly, even if the material bored her beyond belief. She drove him thousands of miles around Europe and the United States—putting her profession as ‘chauffeur’ in hotel registers. She typed his books and was his secretary and housekeeper.”

The life the Huxleys created seemed a mostly happy one. Although the future Huxley popularized in  Brave New World  was bleak, the author himself didn’t lack cheer or humor, as anyone who reads his essays quickly discovers. “Aldous Huxley is an essayist whom I would be ready to rank with Hazlitt,” Somerset Maugham declared. “The essayist needs character to begin with, then he needs an encyclopedic knowledge, he needs humor, ease of manner so that the ordinary person can read him without labor, and he must know how to combine entertainment with instruction. These qualifications are not easy to find. Aldous Huxley has them.”

“Meditation on the Moon,” a 1931 essay, exemplifies Huxley’s sometimes dreamily poetic style. He argues that skygazers don’t have to think of the moon as either a rock or a romantic icon; it can be both. It’s an essay about the claims and limits of technical knowledge, in which Huxley, whose family tree included poets and scientists, attempts to reconcile their intellectual traditions. He wrote:

The moon is a stone; but it is a highly numinous stone. Or, to be more precise, it is a stone about which and because of which men and women have numinous feelings. Thus, there is a soft moonlight that can give us the peace that passes understanding. There is a moonlight that inspires a kind of awe. There is a cold and austere moonlight that tells the soul of its loneliness and desperate isolation, its insignificance or its uncleanness. There is an amorous moonlight prompting to love—to love not only for an individual but sometimes even for the whole universe.

The passage points to Huxley’s deftness as a scene-setter, a skill that made him a great travel writer, too.  Along the Road , Huxley’s 1921 collection of travel essays, is perhaps one of the best modern travel books—and inexplicably, one of the most overlooked. It chronicles his jaunts around Europe, often with self-deprecating charm. In a funny musing called “Books for the Journey,” Huxley considers the bibliophile’s tendency to overpack. “All tourists cherish an illusion, of which no amount of experience can ever cure them; they imagine that they will find time, in the course of their travels, to do a lot of reading,” Huxley writes. “They see themselves, at the end of a day’s sightseeing or motoring, or while they are sitting in the train, studiously turning over the pages of all the vast and serious works which, at ordinary seasons, they never have time to read.”

Huxley suggests, as an alternative to all those heavy books, just toting a random volume of the  Encyclopedia Britannica  along for the ride. “I never pass a day away from home without taking a volume with me,” he confides. “Turning over its pages, rummaging among the stores of fantastically varied facts which the hazards of alphabetical arrangement bring together, I wallow in my mental vice.”

Huxley was really serious about carrying around the  Britannica . “Bertrand Russell joked that one could predict Huxley’s subjects of conversation provided one knew which alphabetical section of the  Encyclopedi a he happened to be reading at the time,” Murray notes. “Huxley even constructed a special carrying-case for it on his journeys.”

This was so like Huxley, his mind sparked by any fact, however arbitrary. The poet Elizabeth Bishop, who was living in Brazil when Huxley arrived for a visit, described what it was like to see him explore a new place:

There is a slight cast to his bad eye, and this characteristic, which I always find oddly attractive, in Huxley’s case adds even more to his veiled and other-worldly gaze. When examining something close . . . a photograph or a painting, he sometimes takes out a small horn-rimmed magnifying glass, or, for distant objects, a miniature telescope, and he often sits resting his good eye by cupping his hand over it.

Huxley’s travels paralleled an intellectual and spiritual odyssey that increasingly shaped his work. His early fiction, which extended the wry tone of  Crome Yellow , evolved into more somber, psychologically complex novels like  Eyeless in Gaza , his 1936 story about a cynical Englishman who comes of age during World War I and eventually turns to Eastern philosophy and meditation to address his disillusionment. Many readers see  Eyeless  as a deeply autobiographical work reflecting Huxley’s own turn away from ironical detachment to life as, in Dirda’s words, “a gentle mystic.”

Huxley’s globe-trotting took him to the United States in 1937, where he made his home, primarily in Los Angeles, for the rest of his life. Lucrative Hollywood screenwriting jobs proved hard to resist. He wrote film adaptations of  Pride and Prejudice  and  Jane Eyre , as well as a Disney version of  Alice in Wonderland  that was never made. In 1956, a year after Maria’s death, Huxley married Laura Archera, an Italian violinist and psychotherapist who had been a family friend, and who proved an equally devoted wife. California’s climate of cultural experiment seemed suited to Huxley, whose willingness to explore new things in the pursuit of enlightenment led him to the strangest writing project of his life.

In the spring of 1953, Huxley took a precisely measured dose of mescalin, the hallucinogenic drug derived from the peyote cactus of the American Southwest, then recorded his experience in a small book,  The Doors of Perception , its title inspired by a quote from the visionary poet William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” Huxley found that the drug greatly enhanced his sense of color. “Visual impressions are greatly intensified and the eye recovers some of the perceptual innocence of childhood,” he wrote. But Huxley also noted that under the influence of mescalin, “the will suffers a profound change for the worse. The mescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything in particular.”

The book doesn’t argue for unrestricted drug use, and in other writings, Huxley pointed out the dangers of abuse and dependency. “In their ceaseless search for self-transcendence, millions of would-be mystics become addicts, commit scores of thousands of crimes and are involved in hundreds of thousands of avoidable accidents,” he cautioned in his essay, “Drugs That Shape Men’s Minds.” Even so,  The Doors of Perception  achieved considerable cachet in the drug culture of the 1960s. The rock group the Doors took its name from Huxley’s book, and in a sad irony, its lead singer, Jim Morrison, struggled with drug abuse and alcoholism until his death in 1971.

Black and white photo of various rock stars from the 1960s and 70s, including Jim Morrison.

Rockers (from left) John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, and Jim Morrison took The Doors as their name, inspired by Aldous Huxley’s  The Doors of Perception .

—© Pictoral Press Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

Huxley’s own death after a lengthy struggle with cancer contained an irony of its own. He died on November 22, 1963, just hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and on the same day that fellow writer C. S. Lewis passed away. Kennedy’s death overshadowed the passing of Huxley and Lewis. But just as events in Dallas cracked open the chaos of the 1960s, so Huxley’s life and work, with its questioning of conformity and the power of the state, seemed to anticipate the countercultural revolution that would soon sweep his adopted country.

In a 1958 nonfiction work,  Brave New World Revisited , Huxley concluded that new developments had made it even more possible for the ominous social order of his most famous novel to be realized. But in  Island , a utopian novel completed shortly before his death, Huxley depicted a benevolent mirror image of  Brave New World , in which ingenuity is harnessed for good rather than evil. It was Huxley’s way of saying that human destiny is still a matter of moral choice—a choice that must be informed by constant inquiry.

“Fearless curiosity was one of Aldous’s noblest characteristics, a function of his greatness as a human being,” Isherwood recalled of his friend. “Little people are so afraid of what the neighbors will say if they ask Life unconventional questions. Aldous questioned unceasingly, and it never occurred to him to bother about the neighbors.”

Danny Heitman is the editor of Phi Kappa Phi’s Forum magazine and a columnist for the  Advocate newspaper in Louisiana. He writes frequently about arts and culture for national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and the  Christian Science Monitor.

Funding information

NEH has supported several projects over the years related to Aldous Huxley. Most recently, the Vedanta Society of Southern California received a  $6,000 grant  that will aid in preserving the society’s archive, which includes some of Huxley’s correspondence. Brave New World is one of the texts assigned to students in an NEH Enduring Questions course on “What is Happiness?” at New Mexico State University. Scholar Jerome Meckier, who has written extensively about Huxley, received a  $10,000 NEH fellowship  in 1974.

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Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was born on the 26 th of July in 1894 in Godalming in the county, Surrey. His parents were Leonard Huxley, a famous schoolmaster and writer, and Julia Arnold, founder of a private school. Since he belonged to an upper-class, his parent’s literary ideas collaborated a lot in his early growth. In 1908, he lost his mother and in 1911, he became ill with a fatal disease, which left him blind two to three years.  Thomas Henry Huxley, the zoologist, agnostic, and controversialist, was Aldous’ grandfather.

Aldous’s educational journey started in his father’s well-equipped laboratory. Later, he was admitted to Hillside School, followed by Eton College. His mother taught him at school until she became ill and died, leaving him in the midst of troubles. During these years, the attack of Keratitis Punctata disease stole his dream of becoming a doctor. Later, he considered it a blessing. In 1913, he was enrolled at Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied English literature. Also, he edited the college magazine, Oxford Poetry, until 1916 and completed his degree the same year.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  • He was blind for nearly three years in his late teens. He remained half-blind in one eye for the rest of his life.
  • Oxford Dictionary lists him for the first user of the words dadaist, bitchy, snooty, and nymphomaniacal.
  • His literary struggle won many honors for him, including such as James Tait Black Memorial Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Companion of Literature.
  • His masterpieces were adapted into various films and TV shows.
  • He married twice in his life and had only one son from the first marriage.
  • He died at the age of sixty-seven on the 22 nd of November in 1963.

Writing Career

Aldous Huxley produced many masterpieces in his life. Despite facing acute illness and other challenges, he mesmerized generations with his literary works. He started writing from the age of seventeen and soon established himself as a social satirist and a leading literary figure. In his early twenties, he wrote short stories and poetry, but his literary reputation was established after the publication of his first novel , Crome Yellow, followed by other notable attempts, including. Antic Hay, Those Barren Leaves and Point Counter Point . In the 1920s, he stayed in Italy and documented his experiences in his work, Along the Road , which appeared in 1925. During the Second World War, he reflected his ideas about the dismantled society using a more somber tone in his novels, brave new world , and Eyeless in Gaza, followed by a series of essays collected in the volume, Music at Night . His other notable works include The Defeat of Youth and Other Poems , The Genius and the Goddess, Two or Three Graces, and Little Mexican .

After establishing his career first as a teacher and later as a writer and poet, he earned much success. He gained immense popularity on account of his thoughtful ideas and unconventional style . He was employed a perfect blend of narrative and descriptive styles in his novels, such as brave new world and Point Counter Point.

Huxley created a new style. Unlike many other great writers, he is also characterized by a literary innovation and a distinct voice . However, he is more famous for dazzling his readers with distinct language that always engages them. Also, in most of his works, he used a lot of social criticism about what is wrong with society. He intentionally used this style to stand apart among his contemporaries. The recurring thematic strands in most of the writings are human impulse, the power of knowledge, freedom, and the limits of science. Regarding literary devices , he often turns to metaphors , imagery , symbolism , and similes to create a unique style.

Some Major Works of Aldous Huxley

  • Best Novels: He was an outstanding writer and philosopher. Some of his famous novels include Chrome Yellow, After Many a Summer, The Genius and the Goddess, Brave New World and Point Counter Point.
  • Other Works: Besides novels, he tried his hands on shorter fiction and poetry. Some of his notable works include The Defeat of Youth and Other Poems, The Cicadas and Other Poems, The Olive Tree and other essays, Two or Three Graces, and Collected Short Stories .

Aldous Huxley’s Impact on Future Literature

Aldous Huxley started his writing career in his early twenties, despite facing several challenges in life. His unique writing style and literary qualities of his masterpieces brought praiseworthy changes into the world of literature. Also, he had a significant influence on a diverse range of writers and critics such as Clive James considers him the most influential figure of history. He expressed his thoughts and ideas in his literary pieces so well that even today, writers tend to imitate his style, considering him a role model for producing novels and non-fiction.

Famous Quotes

  • “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” ( brave new world )
  • “The people who make wars, the people who reduce their fellows to slavery, the people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes, the really evil people in a word—these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they’re the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals.” ( After Many a Summer Dies the Swan)
  • “The history of any nation follows an undulatory course. In the trough of the wave we find more or less complete anarchy; but the crest is not more or less complete Utopia , but only, at best, a tolerably humane, partially free and fairly just society that invariably carries within itself the seeds of its own decadence.” ( Grey Eminence )

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Aldous Huxley

Aldous and his women

Aldous Huxley Nicholas Murray Little, Brown £20, pp496

Nicholas Murray faces two frustrations as a biographer of Aldous Huxley. One, paradoxically, is that Huxley was a conscientious archivist who kept, for instance, the love letters exchanged with his first wife, Maria, in a tin box, and also the journal she wrote before the war. This primary material and much else (at least two unfinished novels, the manuscript of DH Lawrence's St Mawr, literary correspondence and a copiously annotated library) was destroyed by fire at his Los Angeles house in 1961, two years before his death.

Huxley and his second wife, Laura, saved only a few things. He took the manuscript of his work in progress, his last novel Island, and some suits as an afterthought. Laura's priority was her Guarnieri violin, her afterthought a Chinese porcelain statue. They didn't seem to grasp the urgency involved. Murray comes close to reproaching them for their culpable serenity: 'This whole episode is very strange. Why, when the flames had not yet reached the house, did they not rescue more items? Why was there this paralysis of the will?'

Even if they had done a more efficient sweep of 3276 Deronda Drive, though, there's always a danger they would have saved items no more biographically significant than suits and violins. And there's something admirable about Huxley's refusal to be crushed by the obliteration of a large part of his past. The biographer sheds more tears than his subject. Asked by Sybille Bedford how he had coped, Huxley replied: 'One goes out and buys a toothbrush.'

Murray's other frustration is Bedford herself, who published in 1973-4 a two-volume authorised life of Huxley that has acquired something like classic status. Poised between the last days of whitewash and the current vogue for destructive biography, it was intimate and sympathetic without being uncritical. Murray has had access to some new material, but sometimes he overstates its importance, simply because it allows him to step out of Sybille Bedford's warm shadow.

There is substance to some of the novelties, particularly a long correspondence between both Huxleys and Mary Hutchinson, known in the history of Bloomsbury as the lover of Clive Bell. Aldous was shy and impractical, not the sort of man who could manage adultery without help from his wife. The correspondence with Mary Hutchinson makes clear that Maria was not merely complicit but actively 'omnifutuent', to borrow her husband's splendid word for bisexuality.

The connection between the women seems to have been stronger than anything that happened between Mary and Aldous, though he was certainly smitten. In the Huxley household, love was routinely triangular. For Maria at least, the excitement was partly to do with the idea of sharing Mary. In one strange letter of 1925, Maria writes to her: 'Aldous has just come into my bed & he smelt so strongly of you still that it made one giddy.' This would be perverse enough without the element of fantasy added by distance in time and space. When Maria wrote that letter, she and Aldous were in Belgium, Mary in London.

Sybille Bedford was not ignorant of Maria Huxley's involvements, and her omission of it from her biography may have been self-preserving as well as discreet, to judge by the comments by May Sarton which Murray reproduces in a footnote: 'Maria Huxley, you know, tamed women for Aldous. The young tigress, you know, she broke them in. Sybille what's her name who wrote about Aldous was both Aldous's and Maria's lover.' Even so, the new material doesn't greatly alter the picture of the marriage painted by Bedford - passionately loyal, intensified by any apparent distractions.

Murray's subtitle is 'An English Intellectual', as if to acknowledge that Huxley's standing as a writer of fiction has suffered since his death. Certainly it isn't easy to insist on the achievement of a novelist who disclaimed any great affinity with the genre. Brave New World, where the pessimism balances the tendency to preach, is the only certain survivor of his oeuvre.

Huxley's Englishness is, in a sense, self-evident, his Eton-Balliol-Bloomsbury formation the confluence of privileges which created the voice described by Robert Craft as a 'lambent, culture-saturated purr', the sheer, blithe opinionation that allowed him to come up with formulas like 'Penang has a certain Sicilian air', but he spent a third of his life based in America.

It's not that there was anything necessarily cowardly about the Huxleys leaving Britain in 1937 (near-blindness had already disqualified him for one world war), but Murray makes too much of their vicarious suffering in America. It's presumptuous, on the basis of his seeming drawn and strained to a visitor in 1940, to compare Aldous with Shakespeare's Miranda ('I have suffered with those I saw suffer'). 'It was as if the Huxleys, apparently in fortunate exile in the sun, had taken on themselves the anguish of their family and friends in Europe.'

His judgments elsewhere are more robust. He quotes Huxley on Kafka as a corrective to Huxley's own fictional practice: 'In a work of art, a truth is always a beauty-truth; and a beauty-truth is a mystical entity, a two-in-one; the truth is quite inseparable from its companion, so that you can only state in the most general terms what its nature is.' He quotes eloquent dissenting judgments made in Huxley's lifetime, the reservations expressed by Woolf and Isherwood, and the splendidly laconic account of him given by a bookseller friend of Lawrence's: 'Aldous he sit and make remark.'

Murray seems to have escaped the biographer's occupational hazard of disillusionment with his subject, but his readers may not. Huxley's great virtues are so consistently nibbled at by their opposites, his rationalism by wishful thinking, his liberalism by his attraction to eugenics and disapproval of universal free education. Above all, Murray should have steered clear of the formula - 'For Huxley, the personal was the political' - applied to a man who railed against the barbarising effect of the cinema but for years filled his pockets with the screenwriting dollar.

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Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

  • Born July 26 , 1894 · Godalming, Surrey, England, UK
  • Died November 22 , 1963 · Los Angeles, California, USA (Laryngeal cancer)
  • Birth name Aldous Leonard Huxley
  • Height 6′ 4½″ (1.95 m)
  • Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, at Laleham in Godalming, Surrey, England. He was the third of four children. His brother Julian Huxley was a biologist known for his theories of evolution. His grandfather, named Thomas Henry Huxley, was a naturalist known as "Darwin's Bulldog." His father, named Leonard Huxley, was a writer. His mother, named Julia Arnold, was related to poet Matthew Arnold. Young Huxley graduated from the Hillside School, where his mother was supervisor. He was traumatized by the death of both his mother and sister in 1908. He then followed in the footsteps of his brothers by going to Eaton and then to Balliol College, Oxford University. At age 16 he contracted keratitis which left him practically blind for two years, and disqualified him from service in WWI. Upon his recovery he graduated with a First in English Literature, he taught English literature at Balliol College, Oxford. Huxley's literary life began in 1915, when he joined the circle of Lady Ottoline Morell at Garsington Manor. There he met Bertrand Russell , D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot , Lytton Strachey , Virginia Woolf , and Katherine Mansfield . He also met and fell in love with a Belgian refugee Maria Nys. In 1919 she became his wife, and they had a son, named Matthew. In 1920 Huxley began writing for Conde Nast at House and Garden to support his family, and later contributed to Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines. He soon established himself as a successful writer and social satirist with his novels: Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925, and Point Counter Point (1928). The latter novel brought him international fame and was lated included in the Modern Library list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century. His best known novel 'Brave New World' (1932) was actually preceded by "We" (written in 1920, published in English in 1924), which was the very first anti-Utopian novel in literature, written by Yevgeni Zamyatin . Both novels describe the futurist idea of One World State, where totalitarian government manipulates people's lives by eliminating individual freedom, family, art, literature, religions and cultural diversity. Totalitarian government controls humans from their conception and regulates assisted reproduction, as well, as education, indoctrination, and also enforces the medical drug use for pacification. Huxley himself called it a "negative utopia" which was written as a parody on 'Men Like Gods' (1923), a Utopian novel by H.G. Wells, which was also preceded by writings of Yevgeni Zamyatin . In 1937 Huxley moved to Hollywood, California, with wife Maria and a life-long friend Gerald Heard . There Huxley befriended Jiddu Krishnamurti and became one of his disciples, adopting a blend of eastern philosophical traditions with modernized mysticism. He also joined the circle of 'Swami Prabhavadanta' and became influenced by Vedanta and meditating. Huxley dramatically updated his lifestyle, become a vegetarian and practiced yoga. He also experimented with non-addictive psychedelic drugs and wrote about these experiences extensively. He even reported that his eyesight had improved for the first time in over 25 years. After the Second World War Huxley applied for the United States citizenship, but was denied for refusing to take up arms to defend the country. He remained a British Citizen for his entire life. Later in the 1950's he turned down an offer of a Knight Bachelor by the British government. In 1955 his wife, Maria, died of breast cancer. A year later Huxley became married to Laura Archera Huxley who was herself a writer and also became his biographer. In 1960 Huxley was diagnosed with throat cancer. In his last Utopian novel 'Island' (1962), Huxley re-visited and updated his basic ideas from the 'Brave New World' and from his other novels. In 'Island' Huxley summarized his views on the modern world and society, including his position on medical drug use and his political stands on democracy, modernity, ecology and pacifism. The novel served as an inspiration for the 1960's psychedelic culture and was also incorporated in ideology of the New Age Movement. Huxley's opposition to the rigid social organization and self-destructive nature of modern class society and inevitable fatality of the modern world was paralleled by that of Jean-Paul Sartre . Aldous Huxley volunteered in experimental drug use in research carried by his friend Dr. Humphry Osmond since 1953. Huxley repeatedly experimented with mescaline injections and described his observations in 'The Doors of Perception' (1954) and 'Heaven and Hell' (1956). His own health deteriorated dramatically in the early 1960's. Huxley spent his last days bedridden, almost blind, and unable to speak. On his deathbed he made a written request to his wife for an intramuscular injection of 100 mg of LSD. Laura Archera Huxley followed his instruction, and Huxley died peacefully in a few hours after the injection. That was on November 22, 1963, in his home in California. His death was obscured by the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the same day. Huxley wrote the original screenplay for Disney's animated 'Alise in Wonderland' (1951), and co-wrote the screenplays for 'Pride and Prejudice' (1940) and 'Jane Eyre' (1944). Many of his novels were adapted for film or television: two TV productions of 'Brave New World' (in 1980 and in 1998), a BBC production of 'Point counterpoint' (1968) and 'The Devils' (1971) starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Ken Russell, as well as other film and TV adaptations. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov
  • Spouses Laura Archera Huxley (March 19, 1956 - November 22, 1963) (his death) Maria Nys (July 10, 1919 - February 12, 1955) (her death, 1 child)
  • He died on November 22, 1963, the same day that C.S. Lewis died of kidney failure and President John F. Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Texas.
  • He got his wife to inject him with pure LSD on his death bed.
  • The legendary American rock band The Doors took their name from Huxley's "The Doors of Perception".
  • He appears on the cover of The Beatles ' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
  • His friend J.B.S. Haldane 's ideas regarding artificial wombs, ectogenesis, and ectogens influenced his novel Brave New World (1932).
  • Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
  • The vast majority of human beings dislike and even dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence, it comes about that at their first appearance, innovators have always been divined as fools and madmen.
  • To his dog, every man is [ Napoléon Bonaparte ]; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
  • Parodies and caricatures are the most penetrating of criticisms.
  • Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

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Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual

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Aldous Huxley: A Biography Hardcover – March 24, 2003

  • Part of series Thomas Dunne Books
  • Print length 480 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Thomas Dunne Books
  • Publication date March 24, 2003
  • Dimensions 6.42 x 1.7 x 9.72 inches
  • ISBN-10 0312302371
  • ISBN-13 978-0312302375
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition (March 24, 2003)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0312302371
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0312302375
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.05 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.42 x 1.7 x 9.72 inches
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aldous huxley biography

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  1. Aldous Huxley Biography

    aldous huxley biography

  2. Biography of Aldous Huxley, British author

    aldous huxley biography

  3. Aldous Huxley Biography

    aldous huxley biography

  4. Aldous Huxley Biography

    aldous huxley biography

  5. Aldous Huxley Biography

    aldous huxley biography

  6. Aldous Huxley

    aldous huxley biography


  1. The Timeless Moment, Biography of Aldous Huxley with Alan Watts AND Laura Huxley

  2. Aldous Huxley

  3. Aldous Huxley


  5. #Aldus_Huxley biography in hindi & English

  6. Aldous Huxley


  1. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Leonard Huxley (/ ˈ ɔː l d ə s / AWL-dəs; 26 July 1894 - 22 November 1963) was an English writer and philosopher. His bibliography spans nearly 50 books, including novels and non-fiction works, as well as essays, narratives, and poems. Born into the prominent Huxley family, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with an undergraduate degree in English literature.

  2. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Huxley (born July 26, 1894, Godalming, Surrey, England—died November 22, 1963, Los Angeles, California, U.S.) was an English novelist and critic gifted with an acute and far-ranging intelligence whose works are notable for their wit and pessimistic satire. He remains best known for one novel, Brave New World (1932), a model for much ...

  3. Aldous Huxley

    Learn about the life and works of Aldous Huxley, a renowned author and screenwriter who wrote the dystopian classic Brave New World. Explore his early struggles, literary achievements, philosophical interests and legacy.

  4. Biography of Aldous Huxley, British author

    Learn about the life and works of Aldous Huxley, a prolific and influential author of novels, essays, and screenplays. Explore his dystopian vision in Brave New World, his exploration of Eastern philosophy, and his Hollywood career.

  5. Aldous Huxley Biography

    Learn about the life and works of Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World and a satirist of modern society. Explore his early years, education, literary career, and mystical interests.

  6. Aldous Huxley Biography, Works, and Quotes

    Aldous Huxley Biography Aldous Huxley was born in Surrey, England, on July 26, 1894, to an illustrious family deeply rooted in England's literary and scientific tradition. Huxley's father, Leonard Huxley, was the son of Thomas Henry Huxley, a well-known biologist who gained the nickname "Darwin's bulldog" for championing Charles ...

  7. Aldous Huxley

    Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, England, in 1894. He was the third son of the writer and schoolmaster Leonard Huxley, who edited The Cornhill Magazine, and his first wife, Julia Arnold, who founded Prior's Field School. Julia was the niece of poet and critic Matthew Arnold and the sister of Mrs. Humphry Ward.

  8. The Talented Mr. Huxley

    Danny Heitman. HUMANITIES, November/December 2015, Volume 36, Number 6. Photo caption. At six feet four and a half inches, Aldous Huxley was perhaps the tallest figure in English letters, his height so striking that contemporaries sometimes viewed him as a freak of nature. British novelist Christopher Isherwood found Huxley "too tall.

  9. Huxley, Aldous Leonard (1894-1963), writer

    Huxley, Aldous Leonard (1894-1963), writer, was born at Laleham, a house near Godalming, Surrey, on 26 July 1894, the third son of Leonard Huxley (1860-1933), an assistant master at Charterhouse School and subsequently editor of the Cornhill Magazine, and his first wife, Julia Frances Huxley (née Arnold) (1862-1908) [see under Huxley, Leonard], an educator and daughter of the literary ...

  10. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Huxley was born on the 26 th of July in 1894 in Godalming in the county, Surrey. His parents were Leonard Huxley, a famous schoolmaster and writer, and Julia Arnold, founder of a private school. Since he belonged to an upper-class, his parent's literary ideas collaborated a lot in his early growth.

  11. Aldous Huxley Biography

    Aldous Huxley Biography (Writer and Philosopher Best Known for His Novels: 'Brave New World', 'Island' and 'Point Counter Point') Birthday: July 26, 1894 . Born In: Godalming, England. Advanced Search. Aldous Leonard Huxley was a well-known writer, essayist and screenwriter. He wrote his fist novel at the age of 17, the novel was ...

  12. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Huxley himself narrated this hour long adaptation of his dystopic novel of a quickly nearing future in which society manufactures babies for specific roles in life and people control and mellow their experience with the drug Soma... - BNW Audio tapes. As read by British actor Michael York, this unabridged audio edition of the book is ...

  13. Aldous and his women

    Aldous Huxley. Nicholas Murray. Little, Brown £20, pp496. Nicholas Murray faces two frustrations as a biographer of Aldous Huxley. One, paradoxically, is that Huxley was a conscientious archivist ...

  14. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Huxley. Writer: A Woman's Vengeance. Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, at Laleham in Godalming, Surrey, England. He was the third of four children. His brother Julian Huxley was a biologist known for his theories of evolution. His grandfather, named Thomas Henry Huxley, was a naturalist known as "Darwin's Bulldog." His father, named Leonard Huxley, was a writer. His ...

  15. Aldous Huxley: A Biography by Sybille Bedford

    4.02. 138 ratings14 reviews. In this dazzling conjunction of subject and author, the great English novelist Aldous Huxley, the "wholly civilized man," is brought wholly alive in a magnificent full-scale biography by the brilliant English novelist Sybille Bedford, an intimate friend of the Huxleys through four decades.

  16. Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual by Nicholas Murray

    Aldous Huxley:A Biography by Nicholas Murray was an enjoyable read and a good introduction to Huxley's life. There are moments where the biography is a strained. For example, when the author attempts to incorporate Maria's, Huxley's first wife, bisexuality into Aldous' life. This is never done smoothly and it reads almost as if Mr. Murray felt ...

  17. The Doors of Perception

    The Doors of Perception is an autobiographical book written by Aldous Huxley.Published in 1954, it elaborates on his psychedelic experience under the influence of mescaline in May 1953. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, ranging from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision", and reflects on their philosophical and psychological implications.

  18. Aldous Huxley: A Biography

    Aldous Huxley: A Biography. Paperback - April 19, 2015. Aldous Huxley, whose grandfather was T.H. Huxley, the renowned scientist, and whose great uncle was Matthew Arnold, the Victorian poet, was one of the most respected intellectuals of the 20th Century. A close friend of T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Edwin Hubble, Igor Stravinsky, Bertrand ...

  19. Aldous Huxley: A Biography by Murray, Nicholas

    A mordant satirist and impresario of uncomfortable ideas, Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) remains best known for Brave New World, an early 1930s look into a grim future. Murray, biographer of (among others) Huxley's great-uncle Matthew Arnold, evokes the writer rather than the writings. Restless in body as well as in mind, Huxley never lived in one ...

  20. Point Counter Point

    First US edition. (publ. Doubleday, Doran) Point Counter Point is a novel by Aldous Huxley, first published in 1928. [1] It is Huxley's longest novel, and was notably more complex and serious than his earlier fiction. [1] In 1998, [2] the Modern Library ranked Point Counter Point 44th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the ...

  21. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Huxley-t hét különböző évben jelölték irodalmi Nobel-díjra. Élete Ifjúkora 1947-ben. Huxley Godalmingban, Angliában született 1894. július 26-án a több neves családtaggal büszkélkedő Huxley családba a tanár és író Leonard Huxley és első felesége, Julia Arnold fiaként. Nagyapja Thomas Henry ...

  22. The Perennial Philosophy

    The Perennial Philosophy is essentially an anthology of short passages taken from traditional Eastern texts and the writings of Western mystics, organised by subject and topic, with short connecting commentaries. No specific sources are given. Paging through the index gives the reader (or non-reader) an idea of who and what Huxley has taken ...