Aldous Huxley’s Most Beautiful, LSD-Assisted Death: A Letter from His Widow

Just over a year ago, we featured a clip of an interview with Laura Archera Huxley, widow of British dystopian novelist and noted psychedelic drug enthusiast Aldous Huxley. When he approached death’s door in 1963, he asked her to give him a dose of “LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular.” If you’ve got to check out, this sounds, by Laura’s description, like one of the preferable ways to do it, or at least a way that aligned closely with Huxley’s convictions. “There was absolutely no jolt, no agitation,” she recalled on camera. “Nothing except this very quiet — like a music that becomes less and less audible. Like fading away. [ … ] There was a beautiful expression in the face. It was a very beautiful expression in the face.” Letters of Note added much detail onto this spare account by posting a letter sent from Laura to Huxley’s brother Julian not long after the writer’s death from laryngeal cancer. One page appears above, and at Letters of Note you can find scans of all of them plus a complete transcript.

“I had the feeling actually that the last hour of breathing was only the conditioned reflex of the body that had been used to doing this for 69 years, millions and millions of times,” wrote Laura. “There was not the feeling that with the last breath, the spirit left. It had just been gently leaving for the last four hours. [ … ] [Everyone attending Huxley] said that this was the most serene, the most beautiful death. Both doctors and nurse said they had never seen a person in similar physical condition going off so completely without pain and without struggle. [ … ] We will never know if all this is only our wishful thinking, or if it is real, but certainly all outward signs and the inner feeling gave indication that it was beautiful and peaceful and easy.” Just above, you’ll find the video we previously posted of Laura’s briefer description of the same events.

Related Content:

Aldous Huxley Warns Against Dictatorship in America

Ken Kesey’s First LSD Trip Animated

Aldous Huxley Reads Dramatized Version of Brave New World

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

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