Scope and Contents
This collection contains one handwritten letter from Sir Julian Huxley to Dr. Ernst Mayr, and three typed letters from Lady Juliette Huxley to Mayr. Lady Huxley’s letters were written after Sir Julian’s death, and they express her wishes to memorialize her husband.
Biographical / Historical
Julian Sorell Huxley (b. June 22, 1887, d. February 14, 1975) was a lecturer in Zoology at Oxford (1910-1912), Research Associate and later Assistant Professor of Biology at Rice Institute (1913-1916), and fought in World War I before returning to Oxford in 1919, where he conducted the famous axolotl experiments and participated in the university's expedition to Spitsbergen. He became Professor of Zoology at King's College, University of London in 1925, but resigned his position in 1927 to collaborate on what would become The Science of Life with H.G. Wells. He was Fullerian Professor of Physiology in the Royal Institution (1927-1929) while working with Wells, however after 1929 he held no academic position. For ten years he was a private person working to advance his ideas about the biological sciences not as a researcher nor as a teacher, but as a writer on scientific developments and their relationship to contemporary social issues. in 1919, Huxley married Juliette Baillot, a French Swiss girl whom he had met a Garsington Manor.
From 1935-1942 he served as Secretary of the Zoological Society of London, allowing him to encourage solid research on animal behavior while introducing innovative methods for implementing his vision of the zoo as an educational institution. He continued his work as a writer and lecturer and was known throughout war-time Britain for his participation as a panel member of the BBC Brains Trust program. After World War II he helped form Unesco, serving as the organization’s first Director-General (1946-1948). Here he set out a program cosmopolitan in vision, one concerned with mankind in relationship with nature and with its past, one in which art and science were equally valued. He also began to articulate fully the concerns which would occupy the later years of his life: the relation of overpopulation to poverty and ignorance, the necessity for the conservation of wilderness and wildlife, and the importance of the renunciation of parochial views on religion and politics. The remainder of his life was spent traveling, lecturing and writing in support of the causes to which he was devoted. Throughout his long career, he contributed significantly to the fields of ethology, ecology and cancer research, and acted as a powerful proponent of neo-Darwinism.