Aldous Leonard Huxley
26 July 1894
Godalming, Surrey, England
22 November 1963
Los Angeles, United States
|Resting place||Compton, Surrey, England|
Balliol College, Oxford
Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer, philosopher and a prominent member of the Huxley family.
He was best known for his novels including Brave New World, set in a dystopian London, and for non-fiction books, such as The Doors of Perception, which recalls experiences when taking a psychedelic drug, and a wide-ranging output of essays. Early in his career Huxley edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories and poetry. Mid career and later, he published travel writing, film stories, and scripts. He spent the later part of his life in the U.S., living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. In 1962, a year before his death, he was elected Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature.
Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist. He later became interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, in particular Universalism. By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in seven different years.
- Early life 1
- Bloomsbury Set 2.1
- United States 2.2
- Post World War II 2.3
- Association with Vedanta 3
- Eyesight 4
- Personal life 5
- Death 6
- Awards 7
- Film adaptations of Huxley's work 8
Selected works 9
- Novels 9.1
- Short story collections 9.2
- Poetry collections 9.3
- Essay collections 9.4
- Screenplays 9.5
- Travel books 9.6
- Children's fiction 9.7
- Drama 9.8
- 9.9 Articles written for Vedanta and the West
- Audio recordings 9.10
- Other 9.11
- See also 10
- References 11
- Sources 12
- Further reading 13
- External links 14
Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, England, in 1894. He was the third son of the writer and schoolmaster Leonard Huxley 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. Humphrey Ward. Aldous was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, the zoologist, agnostic, and controversialist ("Darwin's Bulldog"). His brother Julian Huxley and half-brother Andrew Huxley also became outstanding biologists. Aldous had another brother, Noel Trevelyan Huxley (1891–1914), who committed suicide after a period of clinical depression.
Huxley began his learning in his father's well-equipped botanical laboratory, then went to Hillside School, Malvern. His teacher was his mother, who supervised him for several years until she became terminally ill. After Hillside, he was educated at Eton College. Huxley's mother died in 1908 when he was 14. In 1911, he suffered an illness (keratitis punctata) which "left [him] practically blind for two to three years". Aldous volunteered to join the army at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, but was rejected on health grounds since he was half-blind in one eye. His eyesight later partly recovered. He went up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read English literature. In 1916 he edited Oxford Poetry and later graduated BA with first class honours. 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.
Following his years at Balliol, Huxley was financially indebted to his father and had to earn a living. For a short time in 1918, before the armistice in November, he was employed ordering provisions at the Steven Runciman were among his pupils, but he was remembered as an incompetent schoolmaster who couldn't keep good order. Nevertheless, Blair and others were impressed by his use of words.
Significantly, Huxley also worked for a time during the 1920s at the technologically-advanced Brunner and Mond chemical plant in Billingham, North East England, and the most recent introduction to his famous science fiction novel Brave New World (1932) states that this experience of "an ordered universe in a world of planless incoherence" was one source for the novel.
Huxley completed his first (unpublished) novel at the age of 17 and began writing seriously in his early 20s, 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 was Huxley's fifth novel and first dystopian work. In the 1920s he was also a contributor to Vanity Fair and British Vogue magazines.
During World War I, Huxley spent much of his time at Athenaeum and invited Huxley to join the staff. He accepted immediately, and quickly married the Belgian refugee Maria Nys, also at Garsington. 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, Huxley edited Lawrence's letters (1932).
Works of this period included important novels on the dehumanising aspects of scientific progress, most famously Brave New World, and on pacifist themes (for example, Eyeless in Gaza). In Brave New World, set in a dystopian London, Huxley portrays a society operating on the principles of mass production and Pavlovian conditioning. Huxley was strongly influenced by F. Matthias Alexander and included him as a character in Eyeless in Gaza.
Starting from this period, Huxley began to write and edit non-fiction works on pacifist issues, including Ends and Means, An Encyclopedia of Pacifism, and Pacifism and Philosophy, and was an active member of the Peace Pledge Union.
In 1937, Huxley moved to Hollywood with his wife Maria, son Matthew, and friend Gerald Heard. He lived in the United States, mainly in southern California, until his death, but also for a time in Taos, New Mexico, where he wrote Ends and Means (published in 1937). In this work he examines the fact that although most people in modern civilisation agree that they want a world of "liberty, peace, justice, and brotherly love", they have not been able to agree on how to achieve it.
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. He also became a Vedantist in the circle of Hindu Swami Prabhavananda, and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle. Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely-held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed the teachings of renowned mystics of the world. Huxley's book affirmed a sensibility that insists there are realities beyond the generally accepted "five senses" and that there is genuine meaning for humans beyond both sensual satisfactions and sentimentalities.
Huxley became a close friend of Remsen Bird, president of Occidental College. He spent much time at the college, which is 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 that year's James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Huxley also incorporated Bird into the novel.
During this period, Huxley earned a substantial income as a Hollywood screenwriter; Pride and Prejudice (1940) and was paid for his work on a number of other films, including Jane Eyre (1944). Huxley 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.
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.
On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating him on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter to Orwell, he predicted:
Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis 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.
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
- Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery
- : "Brave New World". Huxley and the novel. 9 April 2009. (Audio, 45 minutes)In our timeBBC discussion programme
- series. 12 October 1958. (Video, 12 mins).In their own wordsBBC
- "The Ultimate Revolution" (talk at UC Berkeley, 20 March 1962)
- Huxley interviewed on The Mike Wallace Interview 18 May 1958. (Video)
- Works by Aldous Huxley at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Aldous Huxley at Internet Archive
- Works by Aldous Huxley at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Works by Aldous Huxley at Open Library
- Aldous Huxley at the Internet Movie Database
- Centre for Huxley Research
- Aldous Huxley Papers at University of California, Los Angeles Library Special Collections.
- Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun. Appendix (1952)
- Atkins, John. Aldous Huxley: A Literary Study, J. Calder, 1956
- Firchow, Peter. Aldous Huxley: Satirist and Novelist, U of Minnesota P, 1972
- Firchow, Peter. The End of Utopia: A Study of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Bucknell UP, 1984
- Huxley, Aldous. The Human Situation: Aldous Huxley Lectures at Santa Barbara 1959, Flamingo Modern Classic, 1994, ISBN 0-00-654732-X
- Huxley, Laura Archera. This Timeless Moment, Celestial Arts, 2001, ISBN 0-89087-968-0
- Meckier, Jerome. Aldous Huxley: Modern Satirical Novelist of ideas, Firchow and Nugel editors, LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9668-4
- Murray, Nicholas. Aldous Huxley, Macmillan, 2003, ISBN 0-312-30237-1
- Rolo, Charles J. (ed.). The World of Aldous Huxley, Grosset Universal Library, 1947.
- Sexton, James (ed.). Aldous Huxley: Selected Letters, Ivan R. Dee, 2007, ISBN 1-56663-629-9
- Sawyer, Dana. Aldous Huxley, Crossroad Publishing Co., 2002, ISBN 0-8245-1987-6
- Shaw, Jeffrey M. Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. 2014. ISBN 978-1625640581.
- Watt, Conrad (ed.). Aldous Huxley, Routledge, 1997, ISBN 0-415-15915-6
Library resources about
|By Aldous Huxley|
- Anderson, Jack 1982. "Ballet: Suzanne Farrell in 'Variations' Premiere". New York Times (4 July).
- Barnes Clive. 1966. "Ballet: Still Another Balanchine-Stravinsky Pearl; City Troupe Performs in Premiere Here 'Variations' for Huxley at State Theater". New York Times (1 April): 28.
- Spies, Claudio. 1965. "Notes on Stravinsky's Variations". Perspectives of New Music 4, no. 1 (Fall-Winter): 62–74. Reprinted in Perspectives on Schoenberg and Stravinsky, revised edition, edited by Benjamin Boretz and Edward T. Cone, [pages]. New York:W. W. Norton, 1972.
- White, Eric Walter. 1979. Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works, second edition. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03985-8.
- "Companions of Literature". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 5 January 2015
- Roy 2003.
- Thody, Philipe (1973)
- "Nomination Database: Aldous Huxley". Nobel Prize.org. Retrieved 19 March 2015
- Holmes, Charles Mason (1978) Aldous Huxley and the Way to Reality. Greenwood Press, 1978, p. 5
- Julian Huxley 1965. Aldous Huxley 1894–1963: a Memorial Volume. Chatto & Windus, London. p. 22
- Aldous Huxley: Selected Letters". p. 144. Ivan R. Dee, 2007
- Haugrud Reiff, Raychel (2003) Aldous Huxley: Brave New World p. 103. Marshall Cavendish, 2009
- Michel Weber, " Perennial Truth and Perpetual Perishing. A. Huxley’s Worldview in the Light of A. N. Whitehead’s Process Philosophy of Time ", in Bernfried Nugel, Uwe Rasch and Gerhard Wagner (eds.), Aldous Huxley, Man of Letters: Thinker, Critic and Artist, Proceedings of the Third International Aldous Huxley Symposium Riga 2004, Münster, LIT, “Human Potentialities”, Band 9, 2007, pp. 31–45.
- Cerf, Bennett (12 April 1952), The Saturday Review (column), quoted in
- Rolfe, Lionel (1981) Literary LA p. 50. Chronicle Books, 1981. University of California.
- Huxley, The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Harper Perennial, 1963, p. 15.
- "Author, NIMH Epidemiologist Matthew Huxley Dies at 84". 17 February 2005 The Washington Post
- Peter Bowering Aldous Huxley: A Study of the Major Novels, p. 197, Oxford University Press, 1969
- Peter Edgerly Firchow, Hermann Josef Real (2005). "The Perennial Satirist: Essays in Honour of Bernfried Nugel, Presented on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday", p. 1. LIT Verlag Münster
- Raychel Haugrud Reiff (2009). "Aldous Huxley: Brave New World". p. 35. Marshall Cavendish
- Nicholas Ruddick (1993). "Ultimate Island: On the Nature of British Science Fiction". p. 28. Greenwood Press
- Aldous Huxley at Find a Grave
- Spies 1965, 62; White 1979, 534
- White 1979, 536–37
- "Eyeless in Gaza" (1971)
- 1936 Pacifism and Philosophy
- 1937 An Encyclopedia of Pacifism (editor)
- 1941 Grey Eminence
- 1953 The Devils of Loudun
- 1962 The Politics of Ecology
- 2007 Selected Letters
- 1941 "Distractions"
- "Distractions II"
- "Action and Contemplation"
- "An Appreciation"
- "The Yellow Mustard"
- "Some Reflections of the Lord's Prayer"
- 1942 "Reflections of the Lord's Prayer"
- "Reflections of the Lord's Prayer II"
- "Words and Reality"
- "Readings in Mysticism"
- "Man and Reality"
- "The Magical and the Spiritual"
- 1943 "Religion and Time"
- "Religion and Temperament"
- "A Note on the Bhagavatam"
- "Seven Meditations"
- 1944 "On a Sentence From Shakespeare"
- "The Minimum Working Hypothesis"
- "From a Notebook"
- "The Philosophy of the Saints"
- 1945 "That Art Thou"
- "That Art Thou II"
- "The Nature of the Ground"
- "The Nature of the Ground II"
- "God in the World"
- 1946 "Origins and Consequences of Some Contemporary Thought-Patterns"
- "The Sixth Patriarch"
- "Some Reflections on Time"
- 1947 "Reflections on Progress"
- "Further Reflections on Progress"
- "William Law"
- "Notes on Zen"
- 1948 "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"
- "A Note on Gandhi"
- 1949 "Art and Religion
- 1950 "Foreword to an Essay on the Indian Philosophy of Peace"
- 1952 "A Note on Enlightenment"
- "Substitutes for Liberation"
- 1954 "The Desert"
- "A Note on Patanjali"
- 1955 "Who Are We?"
- 1956 "Foreword to the Supreme Doctrine"
- "Knowledge and Understanding"
- 1957 "The "Inanimate" is Alive"
- 1960 "Symbol and Immediate Experience"
Articles written for Vedanta and the West
- 1924 The Discovery (adapted from Francis Sheridan)
- 1931 The World of Light
- 1948 Mortal Coils – A Play (stage version of The Gioconda Smile)
- 1958 The Genius and the Goddess (stage version, co-written with Betty Wendel)
- 1967 The Ambassador of Captripedia
- 2000 Now More Than Ever (Lost play discovered by the Department of English Literature, University of Münster, Germany)
- 1925 Along The Road: Notes and essays of a tourist
- 1926 Jesting Pilate: The Diary of a Journey
- 1934 Beyond the Mexique Bay: A Traveller's Journey
- Brave New World
- Ape and Essence
- 1940 Pride and Prejudice (collaboration)
- 1943 Madame Curie (collaboration)
- 1944 Jane Eyre (collaboration with John Houseman)
- 1947 A Woman's Vengeance
- 1950 Prelude to Fame
- 1951 Original screenplay (rejected) for Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland 
- 1971 Eyeless in Gaza (BBC mini-series in collaboration with Robin Chapman)
- 1923 On the Margin
- 1925 Along the Road
- 1926 Essays New and Old
- 1927 Proper Studies
- 1929 Do What You Will
- 1930 Vulgarity in Literature
- 1931 Music at Night
- 1932 Texts and Pretexts
- 1936 The Olive Tree and other essays
- 1937 Ends and Means
- 1940 Words and their Meanings
- 1942 The Art of Seeing
- 1945 The Perennial Philosophy
- 1946 Science, Liberty and Peace
- 1950 Themes and Variations
- 1954 The Doors of Perception
- 1956 Heaven and Hell
- 1956 Adonis and the Alphabet (US title: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow)
- 1958 Collected Essays
- 1958 Brave New World Revisited
- 1960 On Art and Artists
- 1963 Literature and Science
- 1977 Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience 1931–63
- 1977 The Human Situation: Lectures at Santa Barbara, 1959
- 1916 Oxford Poetry (magazine editor)
- 1916 The Burning Wheel
- 1917 Jonah
- 1918 The Defeat of Youth and Other Poems
- 1920 Leda
- 1925 Selected Poems
- 1929 Arabia Infelix and Other Poems
- 1931 The Cicadas and Other Poems
- 1971 Collected Poems
- 1920 Limbo
- 1922 Mortal Coils
- 1924 Little Mexican (US title: Young Archimedes)
- 1926 Two or Three Graces
- 1930 Brief Candles
- 1944 Collected Short Stories
- Jacob's Hands: A Fable (co-written with Christopher Isherwood; discovered 1997)
Short story collections
- 1921 Crome Yellow
- 1923 Antic Hay
- 1925 Those Barren Leaves
- 1928 Point Counter Point
- 1932 Brave New World
- 1936 Eyeless in Gaza
- 1939 After Many a Summer
- 1944 Time Must Have a Stop
- 1948 Ape and Essence
- 1955 The Genius and the Goddess
- 1962 Island
- 1968 Point Counter Point (BBC mini-series by Simon Raven)
- 1971 The Devils (The Devils of Loudun adapted by Ken Russell)
- 1980 Brave New World (US TV adaptation)
- 1998 Brave New World (US TV adaptation)
Film adaptations of Huxley's work
- 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)
Huxley had been a long-time friend of famous Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, who later dedicated his last orchestral composition to Huxley. Stravinsky began Variations in Santa Fé, New Mexico in July 1963, and completed the composition in Hollywood on 28 October 1964. It was first performed in Chicago on 17 April 1965, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Craft.
Huxley's memorial service took place in London in December 1963 which was led by his older brother Julian, and his ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, a village near Guildford, Surrey, England.
Media coverage of Huxley's passing — as with that of the author C. S. Lewis – was overshadowed by the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on the same day. 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.
On his deathbed, unable to speak due 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, 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. (Los Angeles time), on 22 November 1963.
, London in June 1963. Huxley wrote a draft of the speech he intended to give at the society; however, his deteriorating health meant he would not be able to attend.Somerset House The society invited Huxley to appear at a banquet and give a lecture at .Cambridge University Library The correspondence between Huxley and the society are kept at the  On 9 April 1962, Huxley was informed he was elected Companion of Literature by the
The most substantial collection of Huxley's few remaining papers (following the destruction of most in a fire) is at the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles. Some are also at the Stanford University Libraries.
In 1960, Huxley was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and, in the years that followed, with his health deteriorating, he wrote the Utopian novel Island, and gave lectures on "Human Potentialities" both at the University of California's San Francisco Medical Center and at the Esalen Institute. These lectures were fundamental to the beginning of the Human Potential Movement.
In 1956, Huxley married Laura Archera (1911–2007), also an author. She wrote This Timeless Moment, a biography of Huxley. Laura felt inspired to illuminate the story of their marriage through Mary Ann Braubach's 2010 documentary, "Huxley on Huxley".
Huxley married Maria Nys (10 September 1899 – 12 February 1955), a Belgian 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.
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..."
On the other hand, Huxley's second wife, 
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."
There are differing accounts about the details of the quality of Huxley's eyesight at specific points in his life. About 1939, Huxley encountered the Bates method for better eyesight, and a teacher, Margaret Darst Corbett, who was able to teach the method to him. In 1940, Huxley relocated from Hollywood to a 40-acre (16 ha) ranchito in the high desert hamlet of Llano, California, in northernmost 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 successes 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.
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 institutionalized religion. After the publication of The Doors of Perception, Huxley and the Swami 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.
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.
In 1944, Huxley wrote the introduction to the "Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God", translated by Swami Prabhavanada and Christopher Isherwood, which was published by The Vedanta Society of Southern California.
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.
Association with Vedanta
After World War II, Huxley applied for United States citizenship. His application was continuously deferred on the grounds that he would not say he would take up arms to defend the U.S. He claimed a philosophical, rather than a religious objection, and therefore was not exempt under the McCarran Act. He withdrew his application. Nevertheless, he remained in the country; and in 1959 he turned down an offer of a Knight Bachelor by the Macmillan government.
Post World War II