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Aldous Huxley - A Biography

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Georgia Hamilton

on 4 June 2013

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Transcript of Aldous Huxley - A Biography

Aldous Huxley - A Biography Family Background...

• Coming from a prodigious background, Huxley’s grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, a man of many scientific, literary and social accomplishments. He was most recognized for his part in developing the Theory of Evolution.
• The Huxley’s, considered part of the elite, intellectual aristocracy, were predominantly a clan of extremely learned and scholarly individuals, often mentioned in the same breath as the Darwins. His Childhood...

• Born on the 26th of July, 1894, in Surrey, England.
• Aldous grew up in a family of love and happiness, cared for by his parents and indulged by his older brothers.
• For the first two years of his life, his head was disproportionally large compared to his body, prohibiting him from walking. This garnered him the nickname “Ogie”, a short form for Ogre.
• While beginning his schooling at St. Bruno’s, a small day-school near his residence, Aldous soon became a pupil at the girls school founded and operated by his mother.
• From a very young age, it was remarked that Aldous was different than other children – exceptionally bright and quite pensive.
• He continued education at a preparatory school, where he was found to be quite the jester, and very popular amongst the other schoolboys. And Tragedy Struck...

• At the age of fourteen, while studying at Eton College, Huxley suffered the loss of his mother to cancer.
• In the winter of 1911, Aldous began experiencing trouble with his eyes. Keratitis punctata, a disease categorized by inflammation of the corneas, left him virtually blind for a period of time. Despite remission, Huxley possessed poor eyesight for the remainder of his life.
• One of his older brothers also committed suicide in 1914, another heartbreaking event that affected Aldous significantly. Young Adulthood...

• Despite his illness, Huxley commenced studies at Oxford's Balliol College, earning a B.A. in English Literature.
• However, his poor eyesight hindered him from pursuing the scientific fields in which he was once so keen, and also from fighting in World War I.
• At Oxford, Huxley made friends with such renowned writers as T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence.
• A need for cash prompted Huxley to use his literary talents, publishing his first collection of poetry in 1916. Creating a Family...

• After marrying Maria Nys in 1918, their first and only child, Matthew, was born in 1920.
• As a family, they spent their time between England and Italy. Furthermore, they travelled around the world to various locations including India and the United States. Moving to America...

• Enjoying the extravagance of the American lifestyle, Huxley and family moved to the USA in 1937.
• Living in California, Huxley became a prominent screenwriter for Hollywood.
• In the 1950’s, Huxley was commonly associated with the use and endorsement of drugs like LSD and mescaline. Winding Down...

• Maria Huxley died in 1955, after which Aldous took a second wife within a year.
• Huxley passed away from cancer, at the age of 69. November 22nd, 1963 was the date of his death, the very same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. His Works...

• Brave New World, his most famous masterpiece, was written in merely four months during 1931.
• His other key works include two satirical novels, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939) and Ape and Essence (1948), and another collection of essays called Brave New World Revisited (1958), in which he critically explores content touched in his acclaimed novel. He also wrote a book that he described as the antidote to Brave New World, entitled Island (1962).
• A further book of essays, The Doors of Perception (1954), based on Huxley’s experimentation with LSD and other psychedelic drugs, inspired Jim Morrison to call his band “The Doors”.
• In total, Aldous produced an impressive 47 books during his lifetime. Personal Vision...

• Interested in a wide variety of topics, from Greek history to scientific papers on neurophysiology, Aldous was an avid learner who liked to dabble in multiple avenues.
• He believed in the possible creation of a futuristic world, very much like the one he depicts in his novel Brave New World, filled with scientific advancements and citizens acting merely as blissfully unaware slaves.
• Written before the infamous purges of Stalin and Hitler, Huxley’s Brave New World was not influenced by this vitriolic form of dictatorship.
• Also a spiritual man, Aldous exhibited interest in Hindu philosophy, parapsychology (the study of mental phenomena) and mysticism, all of which influenced his thoughts and writings.
• His experimentation with drugs was another element that altered his philosophy on life. He claimed that it facilitated the exploration of different levels of consciousness within his being, becoming almost a hippie leader of his time.
• A pacifist as well, Huxley was resolutely opposed to violence as a means to settle disputes.
• Considered a visionary thinker, Huxley's astute observations about mankind, from his exceedingly learned, thoughtful perspective, are still referenced today and continue to be relevant within contemporary society. Accolades...

• Huxley was bestowed the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1939, for his work After Many a Summer Dies the Swan.
• In 1959, for his famed book Brave New World, Huxley received the prestigious Award of Merit for the Novel from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This award had previously been given to such celebrated writers as Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Mann. “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley Exhibiting his attitude towards life and learning, Huxley is remembered for one of his most famous quotations... FOR BIBLIOGRAPHY SEE WORD DOCUMENT
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