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Aldous Huxley posters

Birthday

July 26, 1894

Birth Sign

Leo

Height

6' 4½" (1.95 m)

About

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. read more

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.

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