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Aldous Huxley | Biography

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Aldous Huxley was born in England on July 26, 1894, to a family of intellectuals. His grandfather, T.H. Huxley, was a scientist, and his father, Leonard, was an editor for a prestigious London magazine, while his mother was the niece of the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold. Huxley had planned to study biology and then become a doctor, but a disease he contracted as a teenager resulted in near blindness. Instead, he graduated from Oxford's Balliol College with a degree in literature. He taught French at Eton College briefly before serving as a journalist for several British magazines. After focusing on writing poetry and fiction, he published his first novel, Crome Yellow, in 1921. It parodied the intellectuals with whom he mingled.

Three more satiric novels followed before he began work in late 1931 on what was to become his masterpiece. Influenced by his disillusionment with society and politics and his concerns about the ethics of scientific advances, Brave New World was released in 1932. Its dark picture of a future dystopia foresaw later scientific inventions, including in vitro fertilization and cloning, and the rise of totalitarian governments. It was an immediate success in England, despite some negative criticism. The novel took some time to catch on in the United States.

Huxley and his wife immigrated to southern California in 1937. He continued his writing career by experimenting with various genres and writing styles and exploring the finer points of human consciousness. No matter his topic, he always focused on his characters' souls and their place in society.

Aldous Huxley died in southern California on November 22, 1963. His death was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the same day. Huxley's fame did not extend for long after his death.

Acclaim for Brave New World, however, has continued through the decades. It consistently ranks high on lists of the best science fiction books, and the novel's impact on later dystopian authors has been pronounced. The book many regard as the other great dystopian novel of the 20th century, 1984, was written by one of Huxley's pupils at Eton, Eric Blair (who took the pen name George Orwell). In a 1949 letter to Orwell about 1984, Huxley praises the novel while also seeming to claim that his own vision for the future is superior. People living in that future can decide for themselves who came closer to the truth.

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