Author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley was born on July, 26 1894 and died on November 22, 1963—exactly 56 years ago today. In his memory, we’re republishing Jay Stevens’ article from the January, 1988 issue of High Times, originally titled “Door to Perception: Huxley Drops Mescaline,” which was excerpted from Stevens’ book, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream.
He was born Aldous Leonard Huxley on July 26, 1894, in the county of Surrey, England, the third son of Dr. Leonard Huxley, educator, editor and minor literary figure, and the grandson of T.H. Huxley, eminent biologist and one of the most famous men in Victorian England. Known as “Darwin’s Bulldog,” T.H. was the man who had demolished Bishop Wilberforce in the famous Oxford debates over Darwin’s theory of evolution. He personified the scientific rationalist, and he eloquently argued its case in newspapers and magazines, and from lecterns throughout the English-speaking world. His collected essays, filling nine volumes, began appearing in the year of his third grandson’s birth, and just a few months before his own death at age seventy.
“Clear, cold logic engines,” were what T.H. demanded from his son and grandsons. As Aldous’s older brother, Julian, once defined it, the Huxley tradition was one of “hard but high thinking, plain but fiery living, wide intellectual interest and constant intellectual achievement.”
Huxley’s mother, Julia, came from equally impressive stock. She was the niece of poet Matthew Arnold and granddaughter of the moralist and educator Dr. Thomas Arnold, one of the eminent Victorians later eviscerated by Lytton Strachey in the book of that name. Julia Huxley was an educator who founded Prior’s Field, a girls’ school just a few meadows away from Hillside School, where young Aldous received his first education.
Author: High Times / High Times