literary exchange

Stephen Spender


Spender was educated at University College School in Oxford. In his last year at school, he was invited by T. S. Eliot to contribute to The Criterion. In 1930 he travelled in Germany with Christopher Isherwood. On a visit to England from Germany in December 1930, he met John Lehmann. He became part of a politically conscious group of poets, which also included W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Cecil Day Lewis. He was a propagandist for the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1936 and 1937.

As a member of the Left Book Club he met South Asians on the Left. Spender’s Forward from Liberalism (1937) was one of the Left Book Club’s most noteworthy publications. From 1939-41 he assisted Cyril Connelly in editing Horizon. He also published some poems in Tambimuttu’s Poetry London. He was co-editor of Encounter from 1953-66. Spender visited Bombay in the 1950s and met Shrimati Sophia Wadia (c.1901-1986), widow of B.P. Wadia (1881-1958), leader of the United Lodge of Theosophists. Both were founder members of the International PEN Club and contributors to the Indian PEN Club magazine.

During his visit Spender also met with Dominic Moraes (1938-2004), the son of Frank Moraes the editor of The Times of India in Bombay. Impressed with his poems Spender mentored Moraes’ early work and recommended him to Neville Coghill at Oxford. Moraes went up to Jesus College, Oxford and went on to win the Hawthornden Poetry Prize before moving to London in the 1960s, making a name for himself as a poet and Soho habitué.

In 1970 Spender became Professor of English at UCL and a founder of Index on Censorship in 1972. He was knighted in 1983.

Published works: 

Nine Experiments (London: Stepehen Spender, 1928)

Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1933)

The Destructive Element: A study of modern writers and beliefs (London: Jonathan Cape, 1935) [Life and Letters series]

The Burning Cactus (London: Faber, 1936) [short stories]

Forward from Liberalism (London: Gollancz, 1937)

(ed. with John Lehmann) Poems for Spain (London: Hogarth Press, 1939)

The Backward Son (London: Hogarth Press, 1940) [novel]

Life and the Poet (London: Secker and Warburg, 1942)

Ruins and Visions: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

Citizens in War - and After (London: George G. Harrap & Co., 1945)

European Witness (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1946)

Poems of Dedication (London: Faber & Faber, 1947)

The Edge of Being (London: Faber & Faber, 1949)

World Within World: The autobiography of Stephen Spender (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1951)

The Creative Element: A study of vision, despair and orthodoxy among some modern writers (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1953)

Sirimione Peninsula (London: Faber & Faber, 1954)

Art Student (London: Poem of the Month Club, 1970)

Collected Poems, 1928-1985 (London: Faber & Faber, 1985)

Dolphins (London: Faber & Faber, 1994)

Date of birth: 
28 Feb 1909

Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, W. H. Auden, Z. A. Bokhari, Hsiao Ch'ien, T. S. EliotE. M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood, John Lehmann, Louis MacNeice,  Dom Moraes, Frank Moraes, George Orwell, Herbert ReadM. J. Tambimuttu, Dylan Thomas, Shrimati Sophia Wadia, (c.1901-86), B. P. Wadia (1881-1958).

Communist Party of Great Britain, Group Theatre, Indian PEN Club, International PEN.

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Criterion

Encounter  (co-editor)

Horizon (co-editor)

Life and Lettrs Today (reviews)

The Listener

Poetry London

Secondary works: 

Leeming, David, Stephen Spender: A Life in Modernism (New York: Henry Holt, 1999)

O'Neill, Mcihael and Reeves, Gareth, Auden, MacNeice, Spender : The Thirties Poetry (Basingstoke : Macmillan, 1992)

Sutherland, John, Stephen Spender: The Authorized Biography (London: Penguin 2005)

Archive source: 

Occasional writings, journalism, and essays, British Library, St Pancras

Stephen Spender Memorial Trust Archive, London

Correspondence with Leonard and Virginia Woolf, University of Sussex

Correspondence with Victor Gollancz, Modern Record Centre, University of Warwick

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
16 Jul 1995
Location of death: 





Aldous Huxley


Aldous Leonard Huxley was born near Godalming, Surrey, to Leonard Huxley and Julia Frances Huxley, who was the daughter of Thomas Arnold and niece of Matthew Arnold. He enrolled at Eton College in the autumn of 1908. This coincided with the death of his mother, Julia, which left him devastated. In 1911, he was struck down by a staphylococcic infection in the eye which left near-blind for eighteen months. He went on to study English literature at Balliol College, Oxford. While at Oxford he started writing poetry and short stories.

During the First World War, Huxley worked as a farm labourer at Garsington Manor, home to Lady Ottoline Morrell. Here he met Edith Sitwell, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, D. H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, Clive Bell and Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy, most of whom were later associated with the Bloomsbury Group. It was at a sherry party in Harold Monro's Poetry Bookshop, Bloomsbury, London, that Huxley first met Mulk Raj Anand, who was then a student of philosophy. Also attendant at the party were Nikhil Sen, Professor Bonamy Dobrée, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Edith Sitwell, Laurence Binyon, Leonard Woolf and John Middleton Murry. They discussed the literature of James Joyce, Mohammad Iqbal, Rudyard Kipling, Rabindranath Tagore and E. M. Forster. In Conversations in Bloomsbury (1981), Anand sums up the party as follows: 'I was too overwhelmed by the presence of these legendary literary men. I felt that they did not know very much about my country, and what they knew was through Kipling, or through superficial impressions, except for Leonard Woolf, who had lived and worked in Ceylon and even resigned from the Civil Service, because he did not want to be a part of Imperialist rule. And Aldous Huxley felt differently from others, and even differed from himself of the days of his Jesting Pilate, because he had doubts about our benign white sahibs. All the others seemed to believe, more or less, in the "Empire on which the sun never sets"' (p. 29).

A few days after the party, Huxley met Anand again; this time in the British Museum Reading Rooms. The two of them went for coffee at Cafe Italiano, overlooking Great Russell Street, near Monro's Bookshop, where they discussed Ananda K. Coomaraswamy's The Dance of Shiva, Kierkegaard, T. S. Eliot, André Gide and D. H. Lawrence, as well as the nature of Englishmen and Indians. In November 1935, Huxley met Jawaharlal Nehru in Oxford. On Nehru's return visit to London in January/February 1936, he was anxious to meet with him again. When his best-selling novel Brave New World (1932) was published, Huxley and his wife were living outside Paris, and in 1937 the couple moved to Hollywood, California.

Huxley's friend Gerald Heard introduced him to Vedanta, meditation and vegetarianism, and he was introduced to J. Krishnamurti and Swami Prabhavananda. As his sight deteriorated, he experimented with LSD and wrote the collection of essays The Doors of Perception, based on his experiences of LSD. By 1962, he had developed cancer, and he died at his home on 22 November 1963.

Published works: 

The Burning Wheel (1916)

Jonah (Oxford: Holywell Press, 1917)

The Defeat of Youth and other Poems (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1918)

Leda (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920)  

Limbo (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920) 

Crome Yellow (London: Chatto & Windus, 1921)

Mortal Coils (London: Chatto & Windus, 1922)

Antic Hay (London: Chatto & Windus, 1923)

On the Margin: Notes and Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1923)

(with Frances Chamberlaine Sheridan) The Discovery...Adapted for the Modern Stage by Aldous Huxley (London: Chatto & Windus, 1924)

Little Mexican and other Stories (London: Chatto & Windus, 1924)

Along the Road: Notes and Essays of a Tourist (London: Chatto & Windus, 1925)

Those Barren Leaves (London: Chatto & Windus, 1925)

Essays New and Old (London: Chatto & Windus, 1926)

Jesting Pilate: The Diary of a Journey (London: Chatto & Windus, 1926)

Two or Three Graces and Other Stories (London: Chatto & Windus, 1926)

Proper Studies (London: Chatto & Windus, 1927)

Point Counter Point (London: Chatto & Windus, 1928)

Arabia Infelix and other Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929)

Do What You Will (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929)

Holy Face and other Essays (London: The Fleuron, 1929)

Brief Candles (London: Chatto & Windus, 1930)

Vulgarity in Literature: Digressions from a Theme (London: Chatto & Windus, 1930)

The Cicadas and other Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931)

Music at Night and other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931)

The World of Light: A Comedy in Three Acts (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931) 

Brave New World (London: Chatto & Windus, 1932)

Texts and Pretexts: An Anthology with Commentaries (London: Chatto & Windus, 1932)

Beyond the Mexique Bay (London: Chatto & Windus, 1934) 

Peace...1936? (London: Friends Peace Committee, 1935)

100,000 Say No!: Aldous Huxley and 'Dick' Shepard Talk About Pacifism (London: Peace Pledge Union, 1936)

The Case for Constructive Peace (London: Chatto & Windus, 1936)

Eyeless in Gaza (London: Chatto & Windus, 1936)

The Olive Tree and other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1936)

Ends and Means: An Enquiry into the Nature of Ideals and the Methods Employed for their Realization (London: Chatto & Windus, 1937) 

The Most Agreeable Vice (Los Angeles: Jake Zeitlin, 1938)

After Many a Summer (London: Chatto & Windus, 1939)

Words and their Meanings (Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press, 1940)

Grey Eminence: A Study in Religion and Politics (London: Chatto & Windus, 1941)

The Art of Seeing (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1942)

Bhagavad-Gita, The Song of God, trans. by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, with an introduction by Aldous Huxley (Hollywodd: M. Rood Co., 1944)

The Perennial Philosophy (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1945)

Time Must Have a Stop (London: Chatto & Windus, 1945)

Science, Liberty and Peace (New York: Harper, 1946)

Ape and Essence (London: Chatto & Windus, 1949)

The Gioconda Smile. A Play (London: Samuel French, 1949)

(with Sir John Russell) Food and People (London: Bureau of Current Affairs, 1949)

Themes and Variations (London: Chatto & Windus, 1950)

The Devils of Loudun (London: Chatto & Windus, 1952)

The Doors of Perception (London: Chatto & Windus, 1954)

The Genius and the Goddess (London: Chatto & Windus, 1955)

Adonis and the Alphabet and other Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1956)

Heaven and Hell (London: Chatto & Windus, 1956)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1956)

Collected Short Stories (London: Chatto & Windus, 1957)

Collected Essays (New York: Harper & Bros., 1958)

Brave New World Revisited (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959)

Island (London: Chatto & Windus, 1962)

Literature and Science (London: Chatto & Windus, 1963)

The Politics of Ecology: The Question of Survival (Santa Barbara: Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, 1963)

The Crows of Pearblossom (London: Chatto & Windus, 1967)

The Travails and Tribulation of Geoffrey Peacock (1967)

Letters of Aldous Huxley, ed. by Grover Smith (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969)

The Human Situation: Lectures at Santa Barbara, 1959 (New York: Harper, 1977)

Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience (New York: Stonehill, 1977)

(with Christopher Isherwood) Jacob's Hands (London: Bloomsbury, 1998)

Aldous Huxley: Selected Letters, ed. by James Sexton (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2007)

Date of birth: 
26 Jul 1894
Contributions to periodicals: 

The Athenaeum



The Listener

Nash's Pall Mall Magazine

The Star

Time and Tide

Vedanta and the West


Westminster Gazette

World Review

Secondary works: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, Conversations in Bloomsbury (London: Wildwood House, 1981) 

Baker, Robert S., The Dark Historic Page: Social Satire and Historicism in the Novels of Aldous Huxley, 1921-1939 (Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982) 

Barfoot, C. C., Aldous Huxley between East and West (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2001) 

Bass, Eben E., Aldous Huxley: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism (New York and London: Garland, 1981)

Baxter, John, The Hollywood Exiles (London: Macdonald & Jane's, 1976)

Bedford, Sybille, Aldous Huxley: A Biography, vol. 1, 1894-1939 (London: Chatto & Windus, Collins, 1973)

Bedford, Sybille, Aldous Huxley: A Biography, vol. 2, 1939-1963 (London: Chatto and Windus, Collins, 1974)

Birnbaum, Milton, Aldous Huxley's Quest for Values (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1971)

Bradshaw, David, The Hidden Huxley: Contempt and Compassion for the Masses, 1920-1936 (London: Faber & Faber, 1994)

Brander, Laurence, Aldous Huxley: A Critical Study (London: Hart-David, 1970)

Brooke, Jocelyn, Aldous Huxley (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1954)

Chakoo, B. L., Aldous Huxley and Eastern Wisdom (Delhi: Atma Ram, 1981)

Chatterjee, Sisir, Aldous Huxley: A Study (Calcutta: S. Paul, 1955)

Clark, Ronald William, The Huxleys (London: Heinemann, 1968)

Deery, June, Aldous Huxley and the Mysticism of Science (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996)

Dunaway, David King, Huxley in Hollywood (New York: Harper & Row, 1989)

Dunaway, David King, Aldous Huxley Recollected: An Oral History (Walnut Creek, CA, and London: AltaMira, 1998) 

Dunaway, David King, 'Huxley, Aldous Leonard (1894-1963)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Firchow, Peter, Aldous Huxley: Satirist and Novelist (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1972)

Firchow, Peter Edgerly, The End of Utopia: A Study of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1984)

Firchow, Peter Edgerly, Reluctant Modernists: Aldous Huxley and some Contemporaries: A Collection of Essays (Münster: Lit; Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Pubs, 2003)

Gandhi, Kishore, Aldous Huxley: The Search for Perennial Religion (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1980)

Ghosha, Sisirakumara, Aldous Huxley: A Cynical Salvationist (London and Bombay: Asia Publishing House, [1962])

Gupta, B. S., The Glassy Essence: A Study of E. M. Forster, L. H. Myers and Aldous Huxley in Relation to Indian Thought (Kurukshetra: Kurukshetra University, 1976)

Husain, Shamshad, The Century of Aldous Huxley (Delhi: Al-Shams, 1995)

Huxley, Julian, Aldous Huxley, 1894-1963: A Memorial Volume (London: Chatto & Windus, 1965)

Huxley, Laura Archera, This Timeless Moment: A Personal View of Aldous Huxley (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969)

Krishnan, Bharathi, Aspects of Structure, Technique and Quest in Aldous Huxley's Major Novels (Uppsala: University of Uppsala, 1977)

Meckier, Jerome, Aldous Huxley: Satire and Structure (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969)

Meckier, Jerome, Critical Essays on Aldous Huxley (New York: G. K. Hall; London: Prentice Hall International, 1996)

Meckier, Jerome, Aldous Huxley: Modern Satirical Novelist of Ideas (Münster: Lit; London: Global, 2006)

Murray, Nicholas, Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual (London: Little, Brown, 2002)

Nance, Guinevera A., Aldous Huxley (New York: Continuum, 1988)

Nichols, Beverley, Are They The Same At Home? (London: Jonathan, 1922)

Nugel, Bernfried, Now More Than Ever: Proceedings of the Aldous Huxley Centenary Symposium, Münster, 1994 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995)

Roy, Sumita, Pothen, Annie and Sunita, K. S., Aldous Huxley and Indian Thought (New Delhi: Sterling, 2003)

Sexton, James, Aldous Huxley's Hearst Essays (New York; London: Garland, 1994)

Thody, Philip, Aldous Huxley: A Biographical Introduction (London: Studio Vista, 1973)

Tripathy, Akhilesh Kumar, The Art of Aldous Huxley (Varanasi: Rasmain Tripathy; Varanasi, Students' Friends & Co., 1974)

Watt, Donald J., Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975)

Woodcock, George, Dawn and the Darkest Hour: A Study of Aldous Huxley (London: Faber & Faber, 1972)

Archive source: 

Aldous Huxley Oral History Collection, Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Aldous Huxley Collection, University of California, Los Angeles

Letters, Princeton University, New Jersey

Correspondence and literary papers, Stanford University, California

Letters to S. S. Koteliansky, Add. Ms 48975, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Sydney and Violet Schiff, Add. Ms 52918, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence with Sibyl Colefax, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to W. G. H. Sprott, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Correspondence with B. H. Liddell Hart, Liddell Hart Centre, King's College, London

Letters to H. R. L. Sheppard, Lambeth Palace, London

Letters (with others) to J. B. Chapman, University of Aberdeen

Letters to H. E. Herlitschka, University of Reading

Correspondence in Eugenic Society Papers, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, London

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Aldous Leonard Huxley

Date of death: 
22 Nov 1963
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1894-1937, June 1948-1950

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