Childhood & Early Life
Born in Godalming, Surrey, England, Aldous Huxley was the third son of Leonard Huxley, a writer and schoolmaster and his first wife Julia Arnold. He had two brothers and a half-brother.
He began his initial learning in his father’s well-equipped botanical laboratory. Later he attended Hillside school. After that, he studied at Eton College. He lost his mother in 1908.
In 1911, he suffered from blindness for two to three years. As a result of this, he could not qualify for the service in the First World War. After his recovery, he studied English literature at Balliol College, Oxford, from where he graduated with first class honors.
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He taught French for a year at Eton College. Though, he was remembered there for his incompetency as a teacher, yet he gained popularity among his students for his use of words.
In 1918, he worked at the Air Ministry for a brief period. He also worked as a farm laborer at Garsington Manor during World War I. At that time, he met with personalities like Bertrand Russell and Clive Bell.
During the 1920s, he served at Brunner and Mond chemical plant in Billingham, Teesside. In 1921, his first novel, “Crome Yellow” appeared. Through this novel, he caricatured the lifestyle at Garsington.
After the death of his friend D.H. Lawrence, he edited Lawrence’s letters in 1933. During this period, he authored several famous novels like “Brave New World” and “Eyeless in Gaza”.
He also started writing and editing non-fiction works on pacifist issues. The names of books like “Ends and Means”, “Pacifism and Philosophy” and “An Encyclopedia of Pacifism” deserve special mention in this context.
In 1937, he shifted to Hollywood. For a brief period, he went to Taos, New Mexico, where he authored “Ends and Means”. This book appeared in the same year.
His friend Gerald Heard introduced him to the principle of ‘ahimsa’. From 1939 to 1963, he was actively involved with the Vedanta Society of Southern California, headed by Swami Prabhavananda.
His familiarity with spiritual values of “Vedanta’ inspired him to write “The Perennial Philosophy” through which he discussed about teachings of renowned mystics across the world.
His memory of Occidental College, whose president was his close friend, acted as an inspiration for his satirical novel “After Many a Summer”. Appearing in 1939, this novel earned him James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.
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Between the years 1941 to 1960, he wrote 48 articles for “Vedanta and the West”. The Vedanta Society of Southern California published “Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God”, whose introduction was written by him in 1944.
During this time, he started earning as a Hollywood writer. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer appointed him for its film “Madam Curie” He also worked as the script writer of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Jane Eyre”.
His experience of taking psychedelic drug acts as the basis of his essays like “The Doors of Perception” and “Heaven and Hell”. His writings on this drug became popular among the hippies.
From 1951 to 1962, he remained on the editorial board of The Vedanta Society of Southern California. From 1955, his lectures, delivered at the Hollywood and Santa Barbara Vedanta temples, were released on CDs titled “Knowledge and Understanding” and “Who Are We”.
In 1959, Macmillan government offered him a Knight Bachelor which he turned down. In the following year, he authored “Island” and delivered lectures on “Human Potentialities” at the Esalen Institute.
His novel “Brave New World” appeared in 1932. Listed as one of the 100 best English language novels of the 20th Century by the Modern Library, this novel discusses issues like reproductive technology and psychological manipulation.
His novel “Ends and Means” was published in 1937. This novel discusses the issues related to war, religion, nationalism and ethics. In it he frankly opined about people’s ignorance regarding achievement of liberty, peace and justice.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Maria Nys, a Belgian woman in 1919. They had a son. In 1955, Maria died of breast cancer and the very next year, he married Laura Archera, an author.
In 1960, he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. He passed away at the age of 69. Unfortunately, media coverage of his demise was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.