Born: 26 July 1894
Died: 22 November 1963 (cancer)
Birthplace: Godalming, Surrey, England
Best known as: The author of Brave New World
Aldous Huxley was an English writer whose most famous work is the 1932 novel Brave New World. Born into a family of distinguished intellectuals on both sides of the family, he graduated from Oxford in 1916 and went to work as a writer. He published poems and worked odd jobs in the early 1920s, until his first novels, Crome Yellow (1921) and Antic Hay (1923), earned him a reputation among the London literati as a gifted and witty cynic. Brave New World warned that a future utopia based on technology and social control would be a nightmare, a theme that resonated with readers in Europe and the U.S. During the 1930s Huxley bolstered his reputation as an essayist, and his intellectual pursuits turned increasingly to Eastern mysticism. He moved to the United States in 1937 and settled in southern California, where he worked as a screenwriter (including the 1940 adaptation of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice) and studied eastern religions with Gerald Heard and Swami Prabhavananda. He also experimented with hallucinogens, specifically mescaline and LSD. His writings about his experiences, The Doors of Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956), helped make him a counterculture hero in the 1960s. On his deathbed from cancer, he reportedly had his wife inject him with LSD during his final moments. His other novels include Eyeless in Gaza (1936), Time Must Have a Stop (1944) and Island (1962).
Extra credit: Huxley's famous ancestors included, on his mother's side, poet Matthew Arnold, and, on his father's side, Thomas Henry Huxley, famous champion of Charles Darwin... An eye ailment left Huxley blind for part of his college career, and he was plagued by poor eyesight off and on his entire life... He died on the same day as John F. Kennedy and C.S. Lewis.
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