Author Topic: LOCAL COLOR: HIGH TIMES OF ALDOUS HUXLEY  (Read 2795 times)

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« on: Dec 11, 07, 08:39:34 AM »

During the 1920's, Aldous Huxley lived in Italy and France, and then immigrated to the United States in 1937. After dabbling with screen plays in Hollywood, fate would step in and change his plans. Immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Huxley and his wife, Maria, moved out of Los Angeles into a small farmhouse in eastern Antelope Valley. It is believed that they moved because the start of WWII had snubbed any prospect for Huxley in Hollywood, but the family had other excuses for the move; the clean desert air would help Huxley's weak lungs and the bright desert sun would help him in his special eye exercises. (As a child, Huxley fell victim to a debilitating illness that left him for many years dependent upon strong eyeglasses.) Many say that his self-exile into the desert (and later to Wrightwood) and away from all he knew, was his new found religion of the Vedanta Society of mysticism and meditation.

The Llano farm was situated on an old hay field, and the simple non-impressive farmhouse had a small garden. The place had plenty of windows and Huxley had arranged for a big studio to be built, where the massive view of the Mojave Desert inspired him to write. The farm was 40 acres in size and the main house that was built in the 1880’s still stands, as does the studio that Huxley had hired locals to construct. Aldous and his wife, Maria, liked the life, for it was away from the war and gas rationing. Huxley actually treaded the grapes on his farm. With pants rolled up to his knees, he grinned as he treaded grapes in the old-fashioned way.

Huxley spent his summer at Wrightwood at the old Ward house north of present day Highway 2 and across from Wright's Apple Orchard. He had bought the land and small house from its previous owner, Lettie Ward. It was a perfect quiet place for his writing, as he worked on "The Gioconda Smile" as a stage script.

The small house is located at present day 1036 Highway 2, in Wrightwood. At the north end of the existing house was the original structure before add-on's were built to it. It was built by the Nevada Live Stock Company and served as the second U.S. Ranger Station in the area. Containing a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and sleeping quarters, it more than fitted the bill for any ranger. Directly behind the cabin was where the horse and pack animals were kept. Over the years, this cabin and its first occupants is what made it very noteworthy. The complete story of the Ranger Station, and later known as the Huxley House, is available to read at the Wrightwood Museum. Its story is told by the present day owners, Carl and Janet Smith.

The Ranger Station/Huxley House chain of ownership was provided in a written account of the house, and given then to the museum by owners Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They closed it with a touching salute, "Although Aldous Huxley was the most famous person to own and occupy the house, he only lived here for approximately five years. We feel the forest rangers and the Lewis and Peterson families, who lived here longer and contributed so much to our community, are the real history of this house." Amen to that.

1926-Property owners Sumner and Katie Wright sell to Nevada Live Stock Company

UNK -Nevada Live Stock Company erected structure and sold to United States of America

1943-Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of The United States of America sell cabin and property to Security National Bank of Los Angeles

1943-Security National Bank of Los Angeles sell to Letti Ward

1945- Lettie Ward sell cabin and property to Aldous and Maria Huxley

1950- Aldous and Maria Huxley sell cabin, property and second addition to house, to Donald and Mary Lewis

1958-Donald and Mary Lewis sell cabin and property to Wrightwood Company

UNK-Wrightwood Company sell cabin and property to Harry G. Bernier

UNK- Harry G. Bernier sell to George and Elsie Elfining

1965-Gerald and Carolyn Peterson take possession-darkroom, present day entry, master bedroom and bath are added

1987-Gerald and Carolyn Peterson sell to Dale and Debbie Reed

1996-Dale and Debbie Reed sell to Larry and Belen Boyes

1997-Larry and Belen Boyes sell to Carl and Janet Smith


Maria Huxley wrote to friend Suzanne, "I think Aldous is a little down without his mixed harem." As autumn's first snow hit in Wrightwood, Aldous was out shoveling in order to get to his studio to finish his projects. The studio was a trailer of sorts placed in the old corral section north of the house. During winter seasons, mostly around Christmas time, Huxley and Maria's time was spend on their spacious ranch in Llano, near present day Lake Los Angeles. It was on February 29, 1947, when the pair moved permanently to Wrightwood. It was called a “hideous little house” by some associates of the Huxley's. It was in fact smaller than the farmhouse. Huxley had to work in a trailer in back and always had to isolate himself.  However, Aldous loved it. Maria liked it, too, but was more connected with the farmhouse in Llano. Because the town had only a few phones, they had very few visitors in Wrightwood. In their chalet in the mountains, Maria had no regrets, but there always seemed be a sense of fragility in her moods. Marie would write, "One of those wonderful California evenings when the sun is just warm enough and the air cool enough and there is the promise of so much happiness if we did not mar it."


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« Reply #1 on: Dec 11, 07, 08:40:49 AM »
In 1949, Aldous Huxley and Kay Mellendore, of Skydore Lodge, had a common enemy to fight. A cocktail bar being placed right in town! The Blue Ridge Inn was offering cocktail hour, and their featured drink was the "snow bunny cocktail." The two friends, like some others in the twenty year old growing community, felt that the "cocktail hour" moved the family environment of Wrightwood into a whole new different type of community; social drinking and adult partying. Huxley actively fought to stop the sale of alcohol in Wrightwood, but to no avail. The attempt to stop "cocktail hour" failed, and the Huxley’s returned to Los Angeles the following year. He sold the old house to Donald and Mary Lewis in June of 1950. The Lewis' became a big part in the community, as Mary became a school teacher. Their son, actor Geoffrey Lewis, at one point was a lifeguard at Dan Burn's "Seahorse" pool in town.

Huxley's drug use, which started in 1935, intensified after he left Wrightwood. Aldous Huxley volunteered in experimental drug use in research performed by his friend Dr. Humphrey Osmond in 1953. It was at the same time that Aldous Huxley and best friend Gerald Heard became two of the first to explore the spiritual potentials of LSD. For many years Gerald Heard served as a spiritual guide to people who began experimenting with it. He introduced LSD to psychiatrist Oscar Janiger, who pioneered LSD research in the United States and introduced the drug into the Hollywood community.

Meanwhile, Huxley's health took a turn for the worse. He developed pneumonia, and “iritis,” which was a terrible burning in the eyes. Then he developed throat cancer. After thirty years of marriage, Maria died in 1955. He married Laura, another person with a drug problem. Laura  was a different kind of companion than his first wife. Laura was interested in herself. It was in 1954 that Huxley published a study of consciousness expansion through mescaline, The Doors of Perception and later became a guru among Californian hippies. He also used LSD more frequently and showed interest in Hindu philosophy. In 1961 Huxley's house in L.A. was totally destroyed in a brush fire, as were much of his personal papers. Huxley was near death in a Los Angeles area hospital on November 22, 1963. As a parting love kiss, Laura gave him a lethal injection of LSD (with his blessing) on his death bed. One of Huxley's favorite saying was, "Happiness is never grand."


Antelope Valley oral history, Llano's Huxley's Farm

Aldous Huxley, Maria Huxley-oral biography by David King Dunaway
The Occultism & Parapsychology Encyclopedia

"The Huxley House", by Carl and Janet Smith; courtesy of Wrightwood Historical Museum files



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« Reply #2 on: Dec 11, 07, 02:31:01 PM »

Photo from the past: (From left to right) Aldous Huxley, Krishnamurti, Mr. and Mrs. Igor Stravinsky, Maria Huxley, Radha at a picnic in Wrightwood, California 1949.

The Stravinsky's were routine visitors to the Huxley home in Wrightwood. Jiddu Krishnamurti was a well-known writer and speaker on fundamental philosophical and spiritual subjects. At the age of 34, he publicly renounced the fame and messiah status he had gained from being proclaimed the new incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha by the Theosophical Society, and spent the rest of his life publishing regularly and holding public talks worldwide. And, of course, visiting in Wrightwood once in awhile.

Offline love_walnuts

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« Reply #3 on: Dec 11, 07, 11:48:19 PM »
Is that a pic from the local museum? Amazing how much noteriety has be involved in Wrightwood. That is the same Igor that composed the Rite of Spring, made so popular by Disney on their Fantasia film. You should submit the photo and information to Wikipedia. They do not mention Wrightwood, only that he lived in Los Angeles. They do mention that he was close friends with Adlous Huxley, and that they spoke French together.

Thank you for the posting. Brave New World has always been one of my favorite books and was truely life-changing for me in realizing the relitivity of life.

Offline c._smith

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« Reply #4 on: Dec 12, 07, 08:04:20 AM »
Thank you for the information about our home.  Janet and I moved into the house during the "Charmon fire" and wondered what we had done!  We have loved every moment of our time in Wrightwood and have vowed to be a asset to our community not a detraction. Over the years we have had several people stop and ask if the house was once Aldous Huxley's home, and some have actually argued with us when we verified it was.  I have often wondered if they were in some way related to him...  The nicest visits have been with former owners and others that knew some of the former owners and shared their knowledge and memories of our home.

We truly believe the real history of our home are the people that loved Wrightwood and contributed to the community in so many ways.

We have been collecting information and stories of our home to pass on someday.  Thank you for this article and the information you have shared with the community.  Feel free to stop in for a visit anytime you see the garage door open.

Carl & Janet Smith

Offline thevampy1

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« Reply #5 on: Dec 12, 07, 12:57:29 PM »
How awesome!  Can't wait to become a resident of this wonderful community.   I love all of the history.

Offline BostonBob

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« Reply #6 on: Dec 16, 07, 08:39:19 AM »
Dec 16, 12:50 AM EST

Author wife of Aldous Huxley dies at 96

Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Laura Archera Huxley, the widow of "Brave New World" author Aldous Huxley, who worked to preserve his legacy for nearly half a century after his death while authoring her own books, has died. She was 96.

Huxley died of cancer Thursday night at her Hollywood Hills home, said Karen Pfeiffer, her legal ward, who helps direct Huxley's nonprofit foundation, Children: Our Ultimate Investment.

"She said she was ready (to go) and she was happy about the life she'd lived. She felt complete," Pfeiffer said.

During the seven years of her marriage and for the decades after Aldous Huxley died of cancer in 1963, Huxley explored the vistas of psychotherapy, New Age spirituality, consciousness-raising and natural health regimens.

She and her husband experimented with LSD, Huxley wrote in her memoirs, and well into her 90s she was doing yoga and other exercises.

"She never watched TV without being on the treadmill," Pfeiffer said.

Childless herself, Huxley created her foundation in the 1970s, dedicating it to "the nurturing of the possible human."

The foundation has conducted school seminars in the U.S. and Britain for at-risk teenagers on issues such as anger management and pregnancy prevention.

"Our mission is that every child is loved, respected and prepared for before conception," according to its mission statement.

Born in Turin, Italy, in 1911, Huxley was a violin prodigy who performed at Carnegie Hall as a teenager in the 1940s. She later became a film editor, meeting Huxley and his wife, Maria, in 1948 while trying to interest him in writing a film she wanted to make. The movie never happened, but she became friends with the Huxleys. After Maria died in 1955, Huxley proposed, and they were married the next year.

After Aldous Huxley died, she devoted herself to preserving his writings and legacy.

"It was tremendously important to her," Pfeiffer said.

Huxley wrote several books herself, including a 1963 best-selling self-help guide, "You Are Not the Target," and a memoir of her life with Huxley called "This Timeless Moment."