Aldous Huxley

At Eton : 1908-1911

Writers, Poets, Wits, Scholars and Dons

Known for: writer of fiction, journalism, screenplays and poetry.

School days: Huxley was at Eton 1908-1911 (KS). Returned as a master to teach English and French, 1917-1918.

Huxley taught very briefly at Eton during the war: Eric Blair (George Orwell) and Harold Acton were among his pupils during that period. His first novel, Crome Yellow, was published in 1921, and a decade of successful writing culminated in the publication of his best known book, Brave New World, in 1932. Brave New World has an enduring reputation as a dystopia, in which human cloning and social engineering is used to keep a population happy and docile. A period of writer’s block and depression in the 1930s led Huxley and his wife to travel to California, where they eventually settled. During the war, Huxley wrote screenplays for the Hollywood studios, including adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (1940, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier) and Jane Eyre (1943, starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Wells).

A brief return to Europe was followed by a permanent move to the US in 1950. Huxley’s writing took a darker turn, witnessed in the historical novel The Devils of Loudun (1952). Shortly afterwards he took a tablet of mescaline, a psychedelic drug which has similar properties to LSD, and wrote of his experiences in The Doors of Perception (1953). His account heralded the ‘youth culture’ of the 1960s, and its title inspired the name for Jim Morrison’s band, The Doors.