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Biography of Aldous Huxley

Photo of Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was a twentieth century novelist best known for “Brave New World”.

When and Where was he Born?

26th July 1894, Godalming, Surrey, England.

Family Background:

Aldous Huxley was the grandson of T.H. Huxley and third child of the writer and biographer Leonard Huxley. His mother was the niece of Mathew Arnold the poet and granddaughter of Thomas Arnold a headmaster at Rugby School. His father was the third son of the writer and schoolmaster Leonard Huxley.

Education:

Hillside School. Eton College.
Studied literature at Balliol College, Oxford.

Timeline of Aldous Huxley:

1887: Birth of his elder brother Julian who was to become a famous biologist.

1891: Birth of his half brother Noel Trevenen who was later to commit suicide due to depression.

1908: Death of Aldous Huxley’s mother.

1910: Huxley suffers an illness, keratitis punctata, which makes his eyesight so bad he needed to learn braille. He recovered some vision later.

1916: He is disqualified from service in the First World War due to near blindness. He publishes his first book, a collection of poems. He teaches briefly at Eton after leaving university where Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was one of his pupils. This was a disastrous period due to his inability to keep discipline in class.

1917: During this time Aldous Huxley spends many hours working as a farm labourer at Garsington Manor which was the home of Lady Ottoline Morrell. He meets several notable people from the Bloomsbury Group such as Bertrand Russell and Clive Bell whilst at the house.

1918: Huxley is employed by the Air Ministry.

1919: He marries Maria Nys, the daughter of a Belgian industrialist who he met whilst at Garsington Hall.

1920: Birth of his only child Matthew Huxley. He travels extensively in France, Italy and then India and the USA.

1920’s: Huxley works in the Brunner and Mond chemical plant at Billingham in Teesside where he was to learn much of the technology that appeared in his novels. He also lives in Italy where he became a friend of D.H. Lawrence.

1930: He has dinner with the occultist Aleister Crowley in Berlin.

1931: He writes his most famous work “Brave New World” within four months.

1933: Huxley edits the literary papers of D.H. Lawrence who had died in 1930.

1937: He moves to the United States of America and lives in Hollywood, Los Angeles with his wife and son.

1938: Huxley becomes a screenwriter for the Hollywood movie industry. He becomes interested in mysticism, vegetarianism and meditation and became a friend of J. Krishnamurti. He was also influenced by the Hindu Swami Prabhavananda and the Vedanta Society of Southern California. Whilst in LA he was introduced to the novelist Christopher Isherwood.

1939: He wins the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction with the satirical novel “After Many a Summer”.

1940: Huxley writes the screenplay for “Pride and Prejudice.” He moves out of town to a ranch in Llano, California in desert country where his eyesight improves slightly.

1944: He writes the screenplay for “Jane Eyre”. His script for Alice in Wonderland was turned down by Walt Disney as he could only understand one word in three. Huxley writes an introduction to the “Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God” which had been translated by Swami Prabhavanada and Christopher Isherwood.

1945: After the end of World War Huxley’s applications to become an American Citizen were continuously turned down as he refused to say he would fight for the United States.

1949: Huxley writes to George Orwell complementing him on his novel “Nineteen Eighty Four”.

1953: The psychiatrist Humphry Osmond introduces him to the drug mescaline.

1955: Huxley takes his first dose of the psychedelic drug LSD. His first wife Maria dies of breast cancer.

1956: He marries his second wife Laura Archera, a writer.

1958: He writes “Brave New World Revisited” which discusses problems such as over population.

1959: Huxley refuses an offer of a Knight Bachelor (Knighthood) by the Harold Macmillan Government on the grounds of lack of citizenship.

1960: Huxley is diagnosed with laryngeal cancer.

1962: He gives lectures on human potentialities as the Esalen Institute which became a basis of the philosophical Human Potential Movement.

1963: On his deathbed he writes a note to Laura to administer him LSD in his muscles. He died about one hour before the assassination of President John F Kennedy. (C.S. Lewis also dies on the same day).

(1968): Laura, his new wife, writes “This Timeless Moment”, a biography of Aldous Huxley.

When and Where did he Die?

22nd November 1963, Los Angeles, United States of America of advanced laryngeal cancer.

Age at Death:

69.

Written Works:

1921: “Crome Yellow”.
1928: “Point Counter Point”.
1932: “Brave New World”.
1936: “Eyeless in Gaza”.
1937: “Ends and Means”.
1938: “The Perennial Philosophy”.
1939: “After Many a Summer”. (Satire)
1942: “The Art of Seeing which was published in 1942”.
1954: “The Doors of Perception”.
1959: “Brave New World Revisited”.
1962: “Island”

Marriage:

1. 1919 to Maria Nys, daughter of a Belgian industrialist who he met whilst at Garsington Hall. (died).
2. 1956 to Laura Archera, a writer.

Site of Grave:

His ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, near Guildford, Surrey, England.

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