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Huxley, Aldous Leonard

Born: 1894 AD
Died: 1963 AD
Nationality: English
Categories: Satirists, Writers

1894 – Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, England on July 26, 1894.

1908 – Huxley began his learning in his father’s well-equipped botanical laboratory, then continued in a school named Hillside. His teacher was his mother who supervised him for several years until she became terminally ill. After Hillside, he was educated at Eton College. Huxley’s mother died, when Aldous was fourteen.

1911 – Aldous suffered an illness (keratitis punctata) which "left [him] practically blind for two to three years"[1]. Aldous’s near-blindness disqualified him from service in World War I. Once his eyesight recovered sufficiently, he was able to read English literature at Balliol College, Oxford. Following his education at Balliol, Huxley was financially indebted to his father and had to earn a living.

1918 – Aldous was employed acquiring provisions at the Air Ministry. But never desiring a career in administration (or in business), Huxley’s lack of inherited means propelled him into applied literary work.

1921 – He married Maria Nys, whom he had met at Garsington.

1937 – Huxley moved to Hollywood, California with his wife Maria and friend Gerald Heard. At this time too Huxley wrote Ends and Means; in this work he explores the fact that although most people in modern civilization agree that they want a world of ‘liberty, peace, justice, and brotherly love’, they haven’t been able to agree on how to achieve it. Heard introduced Huxley to Vedanta, meditation and vegetarianism through the principle of ahimsa.

1938 – Huxley befriended J. Krishnamurti, whose teachings he greatly admired. He also became a Vedantist in the circle of Swami Prabhavananda, and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle. Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed teachings of the world’s great mystics. During this period he was also able to tap into some Hollywood income using his writing skills, thanks to an introduction into the business by his friend Anita Loos, the prolific novelist and screenwriter.

1939 – Huxley encountered the Bates Method for Natural Vision Improvement and a teacher (Margaret Corbett) who was able to teach him in the method.

1940 – He received screen credit for Pride and Prejudice, and was paid for his work on a number of other films. relocating from Hollywood to a forty-acre ranchito in the high desert hamlet of Llano, in northernmost Los Angeles County, Huxley claimed his sight improved dramatically as a result of using the Bates Method, particularly utilizing the extreme and pure natural lighting of the Southwestern American desert. He reported that for the first time in over 25 years, he was able to read without spectacles and without strain. He even tried driving a car along the dirt road beside the ranch. He wrote a book about his successes with the Bates Method, The Art of Seeing which was published in 1942.

1955-1956 – Huxley’s wife, Maria, died of breast cancer and in 1956 he remarried, to Laura Archera, who was herself an author and who wrote a biography of Huxley.

1960 – Huxley himself was diagnosed with cancer and in the years that followed, with his health deteriorating, he wrote the utopian novel Island, and gave lectures on "Human Potentialities" at the Esalen institute which were foundational to the forming of the Human Potential Movement. He was also invited to speak at several prestigious American universities and at a speech given in 1961 at the California Medical School in San Francisco, Huxley warned: "There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it."

1963 – Huxley died in Los Angeles, California on November 22, 1963. He was a member of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and essays Huxley functioned as an examiner and sometimes critic of social mores, societal norms and ideals. While his earlier concerns might be called humanist, ultimately, he became quite interested in spiritual subjects like parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, about which he also wrote. By the end of his life, Huxley was considered, in many academic circles, a ‘leader of modern thought’ and an intellectual of the highest rank.