Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Biography of Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, England on July 26, 1894. His father was Leonard Huxley, a teacher and editor of Cornhill Magazine, and his mother was Julia Arnold, who founded Prior’s Field School (and was the niece of famous poet and essayist Matthew Arnold). His grandfather was the famous Victorian biologist, T.H. Huxley, which could account for much of Huxley’s early interest in science and his initial interest in becoming a doctor.

In his youth, Huxley was educated at Eton College, and later at Balliol College at the University of Oxford. During this time, Huxley distinguished himself in the sciences and the arts. However, in 1911, an eye disease he contracted left him partially blind. Because of his eyesight, he could no longer pursue his original plan of practicing medicine, so he devoted himself instead to his literary pursuits. 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.” (Julian Huxley 1965. Aldous Huxley 1894-1963: a Memorial Volume. Chatto & Windus, London. p. 22)

Because of his poor eyesight, when he volunteered to serve in World War I, he was rejected. During the war, he spent a great deal of time in London, where he was a member of several well-known literary circles, including the famous Bloomsbury Set. In 1919, he married Maria Nys, a Belgian WWI refugee whom he met in London through his association with this group. He and Maria moved to the United States in 1937.

One of the primary focuses of his work was social satire, which characterizes many of his most successful novels, including Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925), and Point Counter Point (1928). Brave New World (1932) is his most famous novel, a dystopia rife with political and social commentary including on drug use, sexual and emotional repression, monogamy, and consumerism. Brave New World is famous today for how eerily it seems to have predicted certain modern advancements in technology (for example, in-vitro fertilization, psychedelic drug use). Huxley was fascinated by the consumer culture he encountered in California, saying that people are willing to be subjugated if coddled by their oppressor, which was in many ways the premise of Brave New World and much of his other social commentary.

While his most famous work is Brave New World (1932), he was accomplished in many other media [or genres], including playwriting, poetry, philosophy, and non-fiction. Later in life, he moved to Hollywood where he took on lucrative employment as a screenwriter. Among his credits are screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (1940) and Jane Eyre (1944).

Huxley also took an interest in Eastern civilizations and their literature, in particular studying the Bhagavad Gita. He was also a member of the Vedanta Society in Southern California which instructed in meditation and spiritual practices. It was here that he met and befriended novelist Christopher Isherwood.

Huxley died on November 22, 1963 of laryngeal cancer. While he died, his second wife, Laura Archera, injected him with LSD twice, per his wishes. She wrote a biography of Huxley, called This Timeless Moment, in which she describes this incident. An incredibly disciplined and prolific writer, Huxley wrote 11 novels, in addition to several short story collections, poetry collections, travel journals, and essays.

Novels by Aldous Huxley

Poems by Aldous Huxley

  1. A Little Memory
  2. Anniversaries
  3. Books And Thoughts
  4. By the Fire
  5. Complaint
  6. Complaint of a Poet Manque
  7. Crapulous Impression
  8. Darkness
  9. Doors Of The Temple
  10. Escape
  11. Formal Verses
  12. Fragment
  13. In Uncertainty to a Lady
  14. Inspiration
  15. Italy
  16. L'Après-Midi D'un Faune
  17. Love Song
  18. Minoan Porcelain
  19. Misplaced Love
  20. Mole
  21. On the Bus
  22. Out of the Window
  23. Panic
  24. Perils of the Small Hours
  25. Philoclea in the Forest
  26. Philosophy
  27. Poem
  28. Points and Lines
  29. Private Property
  30. Quotidian Vision
  31. Return from Business
  32. Return To An Old Home
  33. Revelation
  34. Scenes of the Mind
  35. Sentimental Summer
  36. Social Amenities
  37. Song of the Poplars
  38. Sonnet: If That Sparkle
  39. Sonnet: Were I To Die
  40. Stanzas
  41. Summer Stillness
  42. The Alien
  43. The Burning Wheel
  44. The Canal
  45. The Choice
  46. The Decameron
  47. The Defeat of Youth
  48. The Elms
  49. The Flowers
  50. The Higher Sensualism
  51. The Ideal Found Wanting
  52. The Life Theoretic
  53. The Louse-Hunters
  54. The Mirror
  55. The Reef
  56. The Two Seasons
  57. The Walk
  58. Topiary
  59. Two Realities
  60. Valedictory
  61. Variations on a Theme of Laforgue
  62. Villiers de L'Isle-Adam
  63. Vision
  64. Waking
  65. Winter Dream