Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley


By (author) Nicholas Murray

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  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Format: Paperback | 512 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 192mm x 36mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 6 November 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0349113483
  • ISBN 13: 9780349113487
  • Illustrations note: Section: 16, b/w
  • Sales rank: 488,590

Product description

The grandson of biologist T. H. Huxley, Aldous Huxley had a privileged background and was educated at Eton and Oxford despite an eye infection that left him nearly blind. Having learned braille his eyesight then improved enough for him to start writing, and by the 1920s he had become a fashionable figure, producing witty and daring novels like CROME YELLOW (1921), ANTIC HAY (1923) and POINT COUNTER POINT (1928). But it is as the author of his celebrated portrayal of a nightmare future society, BRAVE NEW WORLD (1932), that Huxley is remembered today. A truly visionary book, it was a watershed in Huxley's world-view as his later work became more and more optimistic - coinciding with his move to California and experimentation with mysticism and psychedelic drugs later in life. Nicholas Murray's brilliant new book has the greatest virtue of literary biographies: it makes you want to go out and read its subject's work all over again. A fascinating reassessment of one of the most interesting writers of the twentieth century.

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Author information

Nicholas Murray was born in Liverpool in 1952. He has written acclaimed biographies of Bruce Chatwin, Matthew Arnold and the poet Andrew Marvell. He is married and lives in the Welsh Marches.

Review quote

This excellent biography has come at the right time Jeanette Winterson, THE TIMES Generous and intelligent biography J.G. Ballard, GUARDIAN A richly detailed, thoroughly sympathetic portrait SUNDAY HERALD [Murray] provides an appropriately multifaceted portrait of Huxley, emphasising the continuities in his life as well as the radical open-mindedness that informed it. SUNDAY TIMES

Editorial reviews

Sybille Bedford published her biography of Aldous Huxley, the writer best known for his satire Brave New World, in 1973. As Huxley's new biographer Nicholas Murray points out, early in his ambitious and readable account, a wealth of unpublished material about the writer's life has emerged since then, including letters and diaries from contemporaries such as Virginia Woolf and D H Lawrence, plus evidence of the menage a trois which Huxley, his wife Maria and Mary Hutchinson created in the 1920s. Although a fire in Huxley's home in 1961 obliterated many important documents, Murray has turned to 'hundreds of unpublished letters which survive and which are scattered throughout library collections' to allow his subject to speak 'to our current condition in more interesting and thought-provoking ways than has [previously] been allowed'. Born in 1894, Huxley died on the same day as JFK in 1963. His early life was shaped by three events: the sudden death of his mother while he was a teenager at Eton; a severe eye infection which left him nearly blind for up to three years, and partially sighted thereafter; and the mental breakdown and suicide of his elder brother Trevenen. The eldest Huxley brother, Julian, said of their mother's death: 'I am sure that this meaningless catastrophe was the main cause of the protective cynical skin in which [Aldous] clothed himself and his novels in the twenties.' Murray concludes that these events 'injected a greater bitterness into his early writing than might otherwise have been there'. This book takes us through the writer's life chronologically: the relationships of his 'Bloomsbury years', his emigration to the States in the 1930s and his various experimentations and obsessions. It also unwraps a private, more vulnerable Huxley, described early on as 'that gigantic grasshopper', a 'young bird' and a 'tall sad tulip'. Packed with absorbing detail, this account does justice to the many differing aspects of Huxley's life but at the same time allows a coherent figure to emerge. (Kirkus UK)