Many talented twentieth century writers have been overshadowed by classical writers such as Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare. Novels dealing with classical topics are often more recognized than works that tackle controversial topics. Aldous Huxley defies this stereotype, for his controversial works gained great fame while influencing many people. Huxley was not just a successful writer; he was a complex person whose ideas and novels influenced many people.
Aldous Huxley was born July 26, 1894 (Its Online-Aldous Huxley) in Godalming, Surrey, England (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). Huxley was born into a prominent family. His grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, was a biologist who helped develop the theory of evolution. Huxleys aunt, Humphrey Ward, was a novelist. His mother was the niece of Matthew Arnold, a poet, and the granddaughter of Thomas Arnold, a famous educator and headmaster of Rugby school (Aldous Huxley-Biography). When Huxley was fourteen years old, his mother died of cancer. He said his mothers death gave him a sense of the transience of human happiness and he felt that heredity made each individual unique, and uniqueness of the individual was essential to freedom (Aldous Huxley-Biography). From 1908 until 1913, Huxley studied at Eton College (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). While at Eton, Huxley developed a condition of near blindness that plagued him until his death (Philosophers Corner Presents: Aldous Huxley).
After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in English at Balliol College, Oxford, Huxley worked in the War Office in London and taught at Eton and Repton (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). While at Oxford, Huxley was introduced to the literary world and became good friends with D.H. Lawrence (Aldous Huxley-Biography). In 1916, Huxley published his first book of poems, The Burning Wheel (Philosophers Corner Presents: Aldous Huxley). From 1920-1921, he was a part of the editorial staff of the Athenaeum under Middleton Murray. Through the years, Huxley also worked as a drama critic for the Westminster Gazette, was an assistant at the Chelsea Book Club and worked for Conde Nast Publications (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley).
Huxley married Maria Nys in 1919. In 1920 they had a child named Matthew. The family split time between London and Italy and traveled around the world in 1925 and 1926 (Aldous Huxley-Biography). In 1955 Maria died of cancer, and a year later Huxley married Italian violinist and psychotherapist Laura Achera (Brooke 199).
By 1920 Huxley had published two more volumes of poetry. Huxley followed them with Limbo, a collection of short stories. In 1921 Huxley made his reputation as a witty and cynical writer with the publication of his first novel, Crome Yellow, (Philosophers Corner Presents: Aldous Huxley). His style, a combination of dazzling dialogue, surface cynicism and social criticism, made him one of the most fashionable literary figures of the decade(Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). Huxley followed Crome Yellow with Mortal Coils and Antic Hay (Philosophers Corner Presents: Aldous Huxley). In 1932, Huxley published Brave New World, which depicts a highly technological dystopia of the future. The novel influenced other writers like George Orwell to write about futuristic societies. Brave New World brought Huxley great success and is perhaps his most remembered and most successful novel (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). In 1937, he moved to California with Gerald Heard. He believed Californias climate would help his eyesight, which had become a constant burden (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). After coming to the U.S., Huxley produced many nonfiction works including The Perennial Philosophy and The Devils of Loudon (Philosophers Corner Presents: Aldous Huxley). Huxley also wrote screenplays in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood in California. He wrote the screenplay for Pride and Prejudice in 1940 (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). In all, Huxley wrote forty-seven books in his career. In 1959 he received an Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his work (Aldous Huxley-Biography).
In the 1950s Huxley wrote the Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. These novels deal with the inebriated states produced by hallucinogens. They describe the alteration in sensory perception that Huxley experienced with mescaline (LSD-My Problem Child). The rock group the Doors named themselves after the Doors of Perception (Its Online-Aldous Huxley). Huxley had become a guru for hippies in California and began to use LSD (Aldous (Leonard) Huxley). Huxley thought hallucinogens led to a deeper understanding of religious