“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.
2011 edition of Chrome Yellow published by Create Space.
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.
- 2006 edition of Brave New World published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Huxley met D.H. Lawrence when he moved to Italy part time in 1920. The two authors remained close friends until Lawrence’s death. While in Italy Huxley wrote his masterpiece, Brave New World.
It is a dystopian vision of a world controlled by genetic engineering, it’s citizens pacified by institutional drug use.
He moved to Hollywood, CA in 1937. Here he wrote essays and worked on screenplays (including the 1940 version Pride and Prejudice
and the 1944 version of Jane Eyre
.) He became involved with the counter culture and experimented with self-directed psychedelic drugs. In 1962 he published Island
, a “good” Utopia. Where the people of Brave New World
took the drug Soma to numb and intoxicate themselves, the people of Island
take a perfected (and fictional) LSD variant that helps them expand their world in a religious way.
The 2009 edition of Island published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Huxley died on November 22nd, 1963, the same days as C.S. Lewis and President John F. Kennedy.
Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project.
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July 26th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
I had no idea about the Jane Eyre screenplay….thanks, Rita, as usual I have learned something new from my visit!