Scope and Contents
Personal letters from Aldous Huxley to family friends Eva Hermann and Martha Saxton respectively, from Maria Huxley to Martha Saxton and to Eva Hermann respectively, and from Martha Saxton to Aldous Huxley. Correspondence is of a personal nature mainly regarding the death of literary editor Gene Saxton.
Permission to publish materials from the Huxley letters must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
British author Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963) was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, a great biologist who helped develop the theory of evolution. His mother was the sister of Mrs. Humphrey Ward, the novelist; the niece of Matthew Arnold, the poet; and the granddaughter of Thomas Arnold, a famous educator and the real-life headmaster of Rugby School who became a character in the novel Tom Brown's Schooldays. Aldous Huxley was the brother of renowned biologist and former Rice Institute faculty member Julian Huxley.
He attended Eton College and was studying medicine when he developed an eye infection which left him blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. He recovered enough vision to go on to Oxford University and graduate with honors, meeting other writers such as Lytton Strachey, Bertrand Russell, and D.H. Lawrence. Huxley published his first book, a collection of poems, in 1916. He was known during his lifetime for his wide-ranging knowledge in literature, sciences, and other topics. He and his wife Maria were wed in 1919, and their only child, Matthew, was born in 1920. Brave New World, perhaps his most well known book, was published in 1931. After spending years in London and Europe (mostly Italy), the family moved to the United States in 1937, and moved in circles of writers, literary critics, artists, scientists, and bohemian groups. In the 1950s, Huxley experimented with psychedelic drugs and with writing under their influence (for example, Doors of Perception, 1954, Heaven and Hell, 1956, and Island, 1962).
Huxley published 47 books in his lifetime. Some of them include: Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925), Point Counterpoint (1928), Brave New World (1932), Eyeless in Gaza (1936), and The Doors of Perception (1954). Maria Huxley died of breast cancer in 1955. Aldous Huxley married Laura Archera a year later. He died November 22, 1963, the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was cremated, and his ashes were buried in his parents' grave in England.