“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.”
Aldous Leonard Huxleywas born on this day in Godalming, Surrey in 1894. Today is the 118th anniversary of his birth.
Huxley was born into a family of scientist, educators and writers. His grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley was a biologist and anatomist who was know as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his strong support of Darwin’s theories on evolution. His father, Leonard Huxley, who was a writer, editor, and schoolmaster, had a botanical laboratory of his own that he shared with Aldous and his siblings. Both his older brother, Julian, and his step brother, Andrew, became renowned scientist (Julian was a leading evolutionary biologist and the first director of UNESCO; Andrew won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963.) Aldous attended Eton College, but he suffered from keratitis punctata at 16 and was almost totally blind for a year and a half. By learning Braille and with the use of special glasses he was able to continue his studies, but he could no longer follow his dream of becoming a scientist (his first career choice). It also meant he couldn’t fight in WWI.
He taught French at Eton (Eric Blair aka George Orwell was one of his students) and began to write poetry and novels. Chrome Yellow was his first novel, a social satire that was published in 1921. With his use of social criticism, snappy dialogue and cynicism Huxley saw critical and financial success as a writer. He published a dozen books during the 1920s.