Aldous Huxley

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Aldous Huxley 1947Aldous Huxley signature.svg

Aldous Leonard Huxley [ˈɔːldəs ˈhʌksli] (born July 26, 1894 in Godalming , Surrey ( England ), † November 22, 1963 in Los Angeles ) was a British writer . He has been called a polymath . His best-known work is the dystopian novel Brave New World , published in 1932 . In 1937 Huxley emigrated to the United States .

Aldous Huxley became famous primarily through novels and numerous essays . But he also published short stories , poems , travelogues and wrote scripts . In his novels, Huxley examined and criticized social mores, ideals and norms and the possible abuse of scientific achievements by humans. The works of his earlier creative phase can be considered more humanistically motivated. Later he turned mainly to spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and mystical philosophy .


Aldous Huxley 1927 (painting by John Collier )

Huxley was born in Great Britain as the son of the writer Leonard Huxley and his first wife Julia Frances Arnold. On the paternal side , several scientists belong to his ancestors, including his grandfather Thomas Henry Huxley . The writer and cultural critic Matthew Arnold , a great-uncle of Huxley, belongs to the British intellectual family Arnold on the maternal side . The biologist and writer Julian Huxley was the brother of Aldous Huxley, the biologist and Nobel Prize winner Andrew Fielding Huxley was a half-brother.

As a child, Huxley was at the Hillside School in Malvern ( Worcestershire taught), for several years, even by his own mother, until she became seriously ill. He then attended Eton College in Berkshire . His mother died in 1908 when he was fourteen years old. In 1911 he fell ill with the eye and was almost blind for three years. From October 1913 he studied literature at Balliol College , Oxford . When he was in his early 21s, he made writing his profession. His first book The Burning Wheel was published in 1916 when he was 22 years old.

In January 1916, he volunteered for World War I service , but was not accepted because he was still half-blind in one eye (later his eyesight improved). In the same year he worked as editor of the literary magazine Oxford Poetry and graduated with top marks in June. In 1917 he worked for a few months for the Royal Air Force , where he was responsible for ordering material. He taught French for a year at Eton College , where his students included Eric Blair (better known as George Orwell ) and Steven Runciman . As a teacher, he was unable to keep class tidy, but he was admired for his brilliant language skills.

During the war, Huxley had spent much time at Garsington Manor , the home of Lady Ottoline Morrell . In 1919 he married the Belgian Maria Nys, whom he had met there. The next year his son Matthew was born. Huxley now worked as a journalist and art critic . In his novel Crome Yellow (1921) he caricatured the lifestyle of Garsington, but this did not affect his friendship with the Morrells. In the 1920s he stayed in Italy with his wife and young son and visited his friend DH Lawrence there .

His novels tell of a dehumanization of society through scientific progress, especially the dystopian Brave New World from 1932 (German: Brave New World ). At the same time he also wrote on pacifist topics, for example in the novel Blinded in Gaza (1936).

In 1937 Huxley moved to California . Here began his second creative phase, which was characterized by a new turn to people. The dedicated critic, satirist and sharp-tongued realist met Jiddu Krishnamurti in 1938 . Under the influence of Buddhist teachings, he turned to various wisdom doctrines, in particular mysticism and a religious universalism . This new orientation is reflected in the novel After Many a Summer (1939) and even more clearly in Time must have a stop (1944). In the theoretical paper The Perennial Philosophy (1946) Huxley set out his philosophical point of view.

In 1953 he got involved in an experiment supervised by Humphry Osmond , which dealt with the effect of mescaline on the human psyche . In the following correspondence with the author, both coined the word psychedelic for the effect of this substance. The essays The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell describe this effect and the experiment, which he underwent about ten times before his death.

In 1955, Huxley's wife Maria died of cancer. In 1956 he married the violinist, writer and psychotherapist Laura Archera (1911–2007), who later wrote a biography of Huxley ( This Timeless Moment , 1969).

In 1960 Huxley was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx . After that, his health deteriorated. He lectured on " Human Potentialities" at the Medical Center of the University of California in San Francisco and at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur . These lectures are related to the rise of the Human Potential Movement in California. In 1962, Huxley's last novel Island (German Eiland ) was published, a positive utopia in which Huxley also incorporated his experiences with drugs. In the same year he was elected a member of the British Royal Society of Literature . Since 1960 he has been an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters .

Aldous Huxley died on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 at the age of 69. Shortly before his death, he had his wife Laura give him two 100 micrograms of LSD at his request . At noon on the same day the assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy took place, of which Huxley, who died a few hours later, did not find out more. The coverage of this event, as well as the news of the death of CS Lewis , who also died on November 22, 1963, overshadowed the news of Huxley's death. In December 1963 a memorial service was held in London, led by Huxley's older brother Julian . The ashes of the deceased were buried in the family grave. This is in the cemetery in Compton, a village near Guildford in Surrey.

Igor Stravinsky dedicated his last composition for orchestra to his friend Aldous Huxley: the Variations , composed between July 1963 and October 1964, premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Chicago on April 17, 1965.


Huxley was strongly influenced by Frederick Matthias Alexander , whom he even included as a fictional character in Blinded in Gaza .

Huxley was friends with the biologist JBS Haldane and parodied him and his father John Scott Haldane through characters in his works. In addition, J.B.S. Haldane's work on Daedalus on the development of fetuses in artificial wombs influenced Huxley's novel Brave New World .




  • Limbo. Six stories and a play . Chatto & Windus, London 1970, ISBN 0-7011-0805-3 . (EA London 1920)
  • Mortal coils and other stories . Chatto & Windus, London 1971, ISBN 0-7011-0808-8 . (EA London 1922)
  • Little Mexican. Six stories . Chatto & Windus. London 1973, ISBN 0-7011-0807-X . (EA London 1924)
  • Two or three graces. Four stories . Chatto & Windus, London 1963 (EA London 1928)
    • Two or three graces. A little novel . Insel-Verlag, Leipzig 1931.
  • Letter candles. Four stories . Penguin, Harmondsworth 1973, ISBN 0-14-002349-6 . (EA London 1930)
    • After the fireworks. Four novellas . Insel-Verlag, Leipzig 1940.
  • Collected Short Stories, Chatto & Windus, London 1974, ISBN 0-7011-0793-6 . (EA London 1957)
    • Meistererzählungen. Piper, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-492-02477-7 .
    • Master novels . Manesse, Zurich 1951.


  • The Burning Wheel. Poems (Adventures all Series; Vol. 7). Blackwell, Oxford 1916.
  • Selected poems . Appleton, New York 1925.

Travel reports


Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience (1931-1963) , 1977

Philosophical writings

  • Ends and Means. An inquiry into the nature of ideals and into the methods employed for their realization . Chatto & Windus, London 1969 (EA New York 1937).
    • Goals and ways. An examination of the nature of ideals and the means of their realization . Cornelsen, Berlin 1949.
  • The Perennial Philosophy . Chatto & Windus, London 1974, ISBN 0-7011-0812-6 (EA London 1946).


Children's book

  • The crows of Pearblossom . Chatto & Windus, London 1976, ISBN 0-7011-5089-0 (EA London 1967).
    • The crows of Pearblossom and the story of this and that and something very funny in general . Fischer, Frankfurt / M. 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-85211-6 .


  • James Sexton (Ed.): Aldous Huxley. Selected letters . Ivan Dee Books, Chicago, Ill. 2007, ISBN 978-1-56663-629-2 .



  • Sybille Bedford: Aldous Huxley. A biography . Ivan Dee Books, Chicago, Ill. 2002.
  • Harold Bloom : Aldous Huxley . Chelsea House, Philadelphia 2003, ISBN 0-7910-7040-9 .
  • Lothar Fietz: Aldous Huxley - pretexts and contexts. (Human Potentialities, Vol. 6). LIT-Verlag, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-8497-X .
  • Lothar Fietz: Image of man and structure of novels in Aldous Huxley's novels of ideas . Niemeyer, Tübingen 1969 (= Studies in English Philology NF Volume 13, also habilitation thesis at the University of Tübingen , DNB 456615520 ).
  • Ulrike Kretschmer: The human. Monkey or god-like creature? Philosophical-anthropological ideas in the work of Aldous Huxley's Lit, Münster 1998, ISBN 3-8258-3708-4 (also dissertation , University of Münster 1997)
  • Bharathi Krishnan: Aspects of structure, technique and quest in Aldous Huxley's major novels . Almqvist & Wiksell, Uppsala 1977, ISBN 91-554-0669-6 .
  • Jerome Meckier: Aldous Huxley. From poet to mystic (Human Potentialities; Vol. 11). LIT-Verlag, Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-643-90101-9 .
  • Sabine Menninghaus: Concepts of artistic transformation. Scientific analogies in Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf . LIT-Verlag, Münster 2000, ISBN 3-8258-4424-2 (also dissertation, University of Münster 1999).
  • Thomas Nöske : Clockwork Orwell. About the cultural reality of negative utopian science fiction . Unrast-Verlag, Münster 1997, ISBN 3-928300-70-9 .
  • Theo Schumacher: Aldous Huxley with self-testimonies and photo documents . 2nd Edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1992, ISBN 3-499-50368-9 (EA Reinbek 1987).
  • Ronald T. Sion: Aldous Huxley and the search for meaning. A study of the eleven novels . McFarland, Jefferson, NC 2010, ISBN 978-0-7864-4746-6 .
  • Ingrid Sonnhütter: hour sheets . Aldous Huxley, "Brave New World" . 3. Edition. Klett, Stuttgart 1987, IS "" BN 3-12-925111-1 (EA Stuttgart 1983).
  • Robert Southwick (Ed.): Aldous Huxley, "Brave New World" . Longman, Harlow 2008, ISBN 978-0-582-06016-6 (EA London 1991).
  • Gerhard Wagner (Ed.): Aldous Huxley. Representative Man (Human Potentialities; 5). LIT-Verlag, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7663-2 .


  • Reimer Jehmlich: Aldous Huxley, Ape and Essence. In: Hartmut Heuermann (Ed.): The science fiction novel in Anglo-American literature. Interpretations. Bagel, Düsseldorf 1986, ISBN 3-590-07454-X , pp. 101-117.
  • Alexander Kupfer: Views of a Modern Saint. Aldous Huxley and the drug . In: Ders .: The artificial paradises. Intoxication and reality since romanticism. A manual. Metzler, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-476-02178-5 , pp. 625-649 (EA Stuttgart 1996; also dissertation, University of Düsseldorf 1994).
  • Stefan Lampadius: The world state as a superhuman organism. From HG Wells to Aldous Huxley . In: Richard Nate (Ed.): Culture and Biology. Perspectives on the European Modern Age . Königshausen & Neumann Verlag, Würzburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8260-4553-0 , pp. 257-276.
  • Nicolas Langlitz: "Better living through chemistry". Emergence, failure and renaissance of a psychedelic alternative to cosmetic psychopharmacology . In: Christopher Coenen (Ed.): The Debate on "Human Enhancement". Historical, philosophical and ethical aspects of human technological improvement . Transcript-Verlag, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-8376-1290-5 , pp. 263-286.
  • Jerome Meckier: Aldous Huxley's modern myth "Leda" and the poetry of ideas . In: Journal of the English Literature History , Vol. 58 (1991), Issue 2, pp. 439-469, ISSN  0013-8304 .
  • Bernfried Nugel: Aldous Huxley's concept of "Human Potentialities" . In: Eva Oppermann (Ed.): Literature and the art of living. Festschrift for Gerd Rohmann on his 65th birthday . University Press, Kassel 2006, ISBN 3-89958-167-9 , pp. 146-156.
  • Bernfried Nugel, Jerome Meckier: Aldous Huxley Annual . 15 volumes of intensive research. Aldous Huxley Research Center at the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster. LIT Verlag, Berlin-Münster-Vienna-Zurich-London 2001 to 2015, Volume 1 ISBN 3-8258-4370-X to Volume 15 ISBN 978-3-643-90845-2
  • Richard Reschika: Skepticism and Ecstasy - Aldous Huxley as a philosophical essayist , in: Philosophical adventurers. Eleven profiles from the Renaissance to the present, Mohr and Siebeck, UTB, Tübingen 2001, pp. 213–238. ISBN 3-8252-2269-1
  • Eberhard Rohse : Hominization as Humanization. The figure of the monkey as an anthropological challenge in works of literature by Charles Darwin , Wilhelm Busch , Wilhelm Raabe , Franz Kafka , Aldous Huxley. In: Studium generale. Lectures on the subject of humans and animals, Vol. 6: Winter semester 1987/88. Verlag M. & H. Schaper, Alfeld-Hannover 1989, ISBN 3-7944-0158-1 , pp. 22–56 (Chapter 5: “Dominion of the Baboon” as a world fatality under the sign of Belials - Aldous Huxley , pp. 50–55 ).


Web links

Commons : Aldous Huxley  - collection of images, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. Tanya Lieske: For the 125th birthday of Aldous Huxley - Entertaining intellectual. In: Deutschlandfunk. Deutschlandradio, accessed on August 9, 2019 (German).
  2. ^ Honorary Members: Aldous Leonard Huxley. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 12, 2019 .
  3. Laura Huxley: The most beautiful death of December 8, 1963 (English, accessed November 2015)
  4. Bill Bryson : A Brief History of Almost Everything . (A short story of nearly everything). Goldmann-Verlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-442-46071-9 , Chapter 16, pp. 307-308.
  5. ↑ First performed as an opera in 1969, see The Devils of Loudun , filmed by Ken Russell in 1971, see The Devils (film) .
  6. Pride and Prejudice (1940) in the Internet Movie Database (English)