Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Julian Huxley

Julian Huxley

Overview

Sir Julian Sorell Huxley FRS (22 June 1887 – 14 February 1975) was an English evolutionary biologist, humanist and internationalist
Internationalism (politics)
Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all...

. He was a proponent of natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

, and a leading figure in the mid-twentieth century evolutionary synthesis. He was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London
Zoological Society of London
The Zoological Society of London is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats...

 (1935–1942), the first Director of UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, and a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund.

Huxley was well-known for his presentation of science in books and articles, and on radio and television.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Julian Huxley'
Start a new discussion about 'Julian Huxley'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Quotations

Some day no one will have to work more than two days a week... The human being can consume so much and no more. When we reach the point when the world produces all the goods that it needs in two days, as it inevitably will, we must curtail our production of goods and turn our attention to the great problem of what to do with our new leisure.

"Prof. Huxley Predicts 2-Day Working Week" The New York Times (17 November 1930) p.42

We all know how the size of sums of money appears to vary in a remarkable way according as they are being paid in or paid out.

"Philosophic Ants" in The Borzoi Reader (1936) edited by Carl Van Doren, p. 548

Sooner or later, false thinking brings wrong conduct.

"Religion and Science: Old Wine in New Bottles" in the Traveller's Library (1933) edited by William Somerset Maugham. p. 1248

In the evolutionary pattern of thought, there is neither need nor room for the supernatural. The earth was not created; it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion.

The Humanist Frame (1961) p. 18

If I am to be remembered, I hope it will not be primarily for my specialized scientific work, but as a generalist; one to whom, enlarging Terence's words, nothing human and nothing in external nature was alien.

Memories (1970)
Encyclopedia

Sir Julian Sorell Huxley FRS (22 June 1887 – 14 February 1975) was an English evolutionary biologist, humanist and internationalist
Internationalism (politics)
Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all...

. He was a proponent of natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

, and a leading figure in the mid-twentieth century evolutionary synthesis. He was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London
Zoological Society of London
The Zoological Society of London is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats...

 (1935–1942), the first Director of UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, and a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund.

Huxley was well-known for his presentation of science in books and articles, and on radio and television. He directed an Oscar-winning wildlife film. He was awarded UNESCO's Kalinga Prize
Kalinga Prize
The Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science is an award given by UNESCO for exceptional skill in presenting scientific ideas to lay people...

 for the popularisation of science in 1953, the Darwin Medal
Darwin Medal
The Darwin Medal is awarded by the Royal Society every alternate year for "work of acknowledged distinction in the broad area of biology in which Charles Darwin worked, notably in evolution, population biology, organismal biology and biological diversity". First awarded in 1890, it was created in...

 of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 in 1956, and the Darwin–Wallace Medal of the Linnaean Society in 1958. He was also knighted
British honours system
The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories...

 in that same year, 1958, a hundred years after Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 and Alfred Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace, OM, FRS was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist...

 announced the theory of evolution by natural selection. In 1959 he received a Special Award of the Lasker Foundation in the category Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood Federation of America , commonly shortened to Planned Parenthood, is the U.S. affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and one of its larger members. PPFA is a non-profit organization providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services. The...

 – World Population
World population
The world population is the total number of living humans on the planet Earth. As of today, it is estimated to be  billion by the United States Census Bureau...

. Huxley was a prominent member of the British Eugenics Society and its president from 1959–1962.

Life


Huxley came from the distinguished Huxley family
Huxley family
The Huxley family is a British family of which several members have excelled in scientific, medical, artistic, and literary fields. The family also includes members who occupied senior public positions in the service of the United Kingdom....

. His brother was the writer Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

, and his half-brother a fellow biologist and Nobel laureate, Andrew Huxley
Andrew Huxley
Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley, OM, FRS is an English physiologist and biophysicist, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his experimental and mathematical work with Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin on the basis of nerve action potentials, the electrical impulses that enable the activity...

; his father was writer and editor Leonard Huxley
Leonard Huxley (writer)
Leonard Huxley was an English schoolteacher, writer and editor.- Family :His father was the zoologist Thomas Henry Huxley, 'Darwin's bulldog'. Leonard was educated at University College School, London, St. Andrews University, and Balliol College, Oxford. He first married Julia Arnold, daughter of...

; and his paternal grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, a friend and supporter of Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 and proponent of evolution. His maternal grandfather was the academic Tom Arnold
Tom Arnold (academic)
Tom Arnold , also known as Thomas Arnold the Younger, was a British literary scholar.- Life :He was the second son of Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School, and younger brother of the poet Matthew Arnold...

, great-uncle poet Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator...

 and great-grandfather Thomas Arnold
Thomas Arnold
Dr Thomas Arnold was a British educator and historian. Arnold was an early supporter of the Broad Church Anglican movement...

 of Rugby School
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

.

Early life



Huxley was born on 22 June 1887, at the London house of his aunt, the novelist Mary Augusta Ward
Mary Augusta Ward
Mary Augusta Ward née Arnold; , was a British novelist who wrote under her married name as Mrs Humphry Ward.- Early life:...

, while his father was attending the jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria. Huxley grew up at the family home in Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, England where he showed an early interest in nature, as he was given lessons by his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley. When he heard his grandfather talking at dinner about the lack of parental care in fish, Julian piped up with "What about the stickleback
Stickleback
The Gasterosteidae are a family of fish including the sticklebacks. FishBase currently recognises sixteen species in the family, grouped in five genera. However several of the species have a number of recognised subspecies, and the taxonomy of the family is thought to be in need of revision...

, Gran'pater?" Also, according to Julian himself, his grandfather took him to visit J. D. Hooker at Kew.

At the age of thirteen Huxley attended Eton College
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

 as a King's Scholar
King's Scholar
A King's Scholar is a foundation scholar of one of certain public schools...

, and continued to develop scientific interests; his grandfather had influenced the school to build science laboratories much earlier. At Eton he developed an interest in ornithology, guided by science master W. D. 'Piggy' Hill. "Piggy was a genius as a teacher... I have always been grateful to him." In 1905 Huxley won a scholarship in Zoology
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

 to Balliol College, Oxford
Balliol College, Oxford
Balliol College , founded in 1263, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England but founded by a family with strong Scottish connections....

.

Student life


In 1906, after a summer in Germany, Huxley took his place in Oxford, where he developed a particular interest in embryology
Embryology
Embryology is a science which is about the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage...

 and protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

. In the autumn term of his final year, 1908, his mother died from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 at only 46: a terrible blow for her husband, three sons and young eight-year old daughter Margaret. In 1909 he graduated with first class honours, and spent that July at the international gathering for the centenary of Darwin's birth, held at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

. Also, it was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Origin of species.

Early career


Huxley got a scholarship to spend a year at the Naples Marine Biological Station where he developed his interest in developmental biology by investigating sea squirts and sea urchins. In 1910 he was appointed as Demonstrator in the Department of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 at Oxford University, and started on the systematic observation of the courtship habits of water birds such as the Common Redshank
Common Redshank
The Common Redshank or simply Redshank is an Eurasian wader in the large family Scolopacidae.- Description and systematics :...

 (a wader) and grebes (which are divers). Bird watching in childhood had given Huxley his interest in ornithology
Ornithology
Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

, and he helped devise systems for the surveying and conservation of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s. His particular interest was bird behaviour, especially the courtship of water birds. His 1914 paper on the Great Crested Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
The Great Crested Grebe is a member of the grebe family of water birds.- Description :The Great Crested Grebe is long with a wingspan. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations...

, later published as a book, was a landmark in avian ethology
Ethology
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

; his invention of vivid labels for the rituals (such as 'penguin dance', 'plesiosaurus race' etc.) made the ideas memorable and interesting to the general reader.

In 1912 his life took a new turn. He was asked by Edgar Odell Lovett
Edgar Odell Lovett
Edgar Odell Lovett was an American educator and education administrator.He was the first president of Rice Institute in Houston, Texas...

 to take the lead in setting up the new Department of Biology at the newly created Rice Institute (now Rice University
Rice University
William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

) in Houston, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, which he accepted, planning to start the following year. Huxley made an exploratory trip to the USA in September 1912, visiting a number of leading universities as well as the Rice Institute. At T.H. Morgan's fly lab (Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

) he invited H.J. Muller to join him at Rice. Muller agreed to be his deputy, hurried to complete his PhD and moved to Houston for the beginning of the 1915–1916 academic year. At Rice, Muller taught biology and continued Drosophila lab work.

Before taking up the post of Assistant Professor at the Rice Institute
Rice University
William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

, Huxley spent a year in Germany preparing for his demanding new job. Working in a laboratory just months before the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Huxley overheard fellow academics comment on a passing aircraft "it will not be long before those planes are flying over England". In 1913 Huxley had a nervous breakdown
Nervous breakdown
Mental breakdown is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.-Definition:...

 after the break-up of his relationship with 'K', and rested in a nursing home. His depression returned the next year, and he and his brother Trevenen (two years his junior) ended up in the same nursing home. Sadly, Trevenen hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 himself. Depressive illness had afflicted others in the Huxley family.

One pleasure of Huxley's life in Texas was the sight of his first hummingbird
Hummingbird
Hummingbirds are birds that comprise the family Trochilidae. They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm range. Indeed, the smallest extant bird species is a hummingbird, the 5-cm Bee Hummingbird. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings...

, though his visit to Edward Avery McIlhenny
Edward Avery McIlhenny
Edward Avery "Ned" McIlhenny , son of Tabasco brand pepper sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny, was a Louisiana businessman, explorer, and conservationist....

's estate on Avery Island in Louisiana was more significant. The McIlhennys and their Avery cousins owned the entire island, and the McIlhenny branch used it to produce their famous Tabasco sauce
Tabasco sauce
Tabasco sauce is the brand name for a hot sauce produced by US-based McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana. Tabasco sauce is made from tabasco peppers , vinegar, and salt, and aged in white oak barrels for three years. It has a hot, spicy flavor...

. Birds were one of McIlhenny's passions, however, and around 1895 he had set up a private sanctuary on the Island, called Bird City. There Huxley found egrets, herons and bitterns. These water birds, like the grebes, exhibit mutual courtship, with the pairs displaying to each other, and with the secondary sexual characters equally developed in both sexes.

In September 1916 Huxley returned to England from Texas to assist in the war effort, working in the British Army Intelligence Corps, first in Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

, and then in northern Italy. After the war he became a Fellow
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 at New College, Oxford
New College, Oxford
New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.- Overview :The College's official name, College of St Mary, is the same as that of the older Oriel College; hence, it has been referred to as the "New College of St Mary", and is now almost always...

 and was made Senior Demonstrator in the University Department of Zoology. In fact, Huxley took the place of his old tutor Geoffrey Smith, who had been killed in the battle of the Somme on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

.

In 1919 Huxley married Juliette Baillot. She was a French Swiss girl whom he had met at Garsington Manor
Garsington Manor
Garsington Manor, in the village of Garsington, near Oxford, England, is a Tudor building, best known as the former home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, the Bloomsbury Group socialite...

, the country house of Lady Ottoline Morrell
Lady Ottoline Morrell
The Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Morrell was an English aristocrat and society hostess. Her patronage was influential in artistic and intellectual circles, where she befriended writers such as Aldous Huxley, Siegfried Sassoon, T. S. Eliot and D. H...

, a Bloomsbury Group
Bloomsbury Group
The Bloomsbury Group or Bloomsbury Set was a group of writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists who held informal discussions in Bloomsbury throughout the 20th century. This English collective of friends and relatives lived, worked or studied near Bloomsbury in London during the first half...

 socialite with a penchant for artists and intellectuals. The newly-weds' life together included students, faculty wives, grebes and, unfortunately, another depressive breakdown, this time rather serious. From his wife's autobiography it seems his mental illness took the form of a bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

, with the depressive phases being of moderate to severe intensity. It took a long time for him to recover on this occasion, but despite this he left a legacy of students who admired him, and who became leaders in zoology for the next thirty or forty years. E.B. Ford
E.B. Ford
Edmund Brisco "Henry" Ford FRS Hon. FRCP was a British ecological geneticist. He was a leader among those British biologists who investigated the role of natural selection in nature. As a schoolboy Ford became interested in lepidoptera, the group of insects which includes butterflies and moths...

 always remembered his openness and encouragement at the start of his career.

In 1925 Huxley moved to King's College London
King's College London
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's has a claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and...

 as Professor of Zoology
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

, but in 1927, to the amazement of his colleagues, he resigned his chair to work full time with H.G. Wells and his son G.P. Wells on The Science of Life
The Science of Life
The Science of Life is nine books in three volumes written by Julian Huxley and G. P. Wells, edited by H. G. Wells and published by The Waverley Publishing Company Ltd in 1929-30, describing all major aspects of biology as known in the 1920s. The full details of its publishing record are as...

 (see below). For some time Huxley retained his room at King's College, and continued as Honorary Lecturer in the Zoology Department. From 1927–31 he was also Fullerian Professor of Physiology
Royal Institution
The Royal Institution of Great Britain is an organization devoted to scientific education and research, based in London.-Overview:...

 at the Royal Institution
Royal Institution
The Royal Institution of Great Britain is an organization devoted to scientific education and research, based in London.-Overview:...

, where he gave an annual lectures series. No-one realised it at the time, but he had come to the end of his life as a university academic.

In 1929, after finishing work on The Science of Life, Huxley visited East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 to advise the Colonial Office
Colonial Office
Colonial Office is the government agency which serves to oversee and supervise their colony* Colonial Office - The British Government department* Office of Insular Affairs - the American government agency* Reichskolonialamt - the German Colonial Office...

 on education in British East Africa (for the most part Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 and Tanganyika
Tanganyika
Tanganyika , later formally the Republic of Tanganyika, was a sovereign state in East Africa from 1961 to 1964. It was situated between the Indian Ocean and the African Great Lakes of Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika...

). He discovered that the wildlife on the Serengeti
Serengeti
The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical region in Africa. It is located in north Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya between latitudes 1 and 3 S and longitudes 34 and 36 E. It spans some ....

 plain was almost undisturbed because the tsetse fly
Tsetse fly
Tsetse , sometimes spelled tzetze and also known as tik-tik flies, are large biting flies that inhabit much of mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts. They live by feeding on the blood of vertebrate animals and are the primary biological vectors of trypanosomes, which...

 (the vector for the trypanosome
Trypanosoma brucei
Trypanosoma brucei is a parasitic protist species that causes African trypanosomiasis in humans and nagana in animals in Africa. There are 3 sub-species of T. brucei: T. b. brucei, T. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense.These obligate parasites have two hosts - an insect vector and mammalian host...

 parasite which causes sleeping sickness in humans) prevented human settlement there. He tells about these experiences in Africa view (1931), and so does his wife. She reveals that he fell in love with an 18-year old American girl on board ship (when Juliette was not present), and then presented Juliette with his ideas for an open marriage: "What Julian really wanted was... a definite freedom from the conventional bonds of marriage." The couple separated for a while; Julian traveled to the USA, hoping to land a suitable appointment and, in due course, to marry Miss Weldmeier. He left no account of what transpired, but he was evidently not successful, and returned to England to resume his marriage in 1931. For the next couple of years Huxley still angled for an appointment in the USA, without success.

Mid career


As the 1930s started, Huxley travelled widely and took part in a variety of activities which were partly scientific and partly political. In 1931 Huxley visited the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 at the invitation of Intourist
Intourist
Intourist is a Russian travel agency, 66%-owned by Moscow-based holding company Sistema.Before privatisation in 1992, Intourist was renowned as the official state travel agency of the Soviet Union. It was founded in 1929 by Joseph Stalin and was staffed by NKVD and later KGB officials...

, where initially he admired the results of social and economic planning on a large scale. Later, back in the United Kingdom, he became a founding member of the think tank Political and Economic Planning
Political and Economic Planning
Political and Economic Planning was a British policy think tank, formed in 1931 in response to Max Nicholson's article A National Plan for Britain published in February of that year in Gerald Barry's magazine The Week-End Review....

.

In the 1930s Huxley visited Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 and other East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

n countries to see the conservation work, including the creation of national parks, which was happening in the few areas that remained uninhabited due to malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

. From 1933–38 he was a member of the committee for Lord Hailey's Africa Survey.

In 1935 Huxley was appointed Secretary to the Zoological Society of London
Zoological Society of London
The Zoological Society of London is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats...

, and spent much of the next seven years running the society and its zoological gardens, the London Zoo
London Zoo
London Zoo is the world's oldest scientific zoo. It was opened in London on 27 April 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. It was eventually opened to the public in 1847...

 and Whipsnade Park, alongside his writing and research. The previous Director, Peter Chalmers Mitchell
Peter Chalmers Mitchell
Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell CBE FRS DSc LLD , zoologist, was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1903 to 1935. During this time he directed the policy of the London Zoo, and created the world's first open zoological park known as Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.- Early life :Peter...

, had been in post for many years, and had skillfully avoided conflict with the Fellows and Council. Things were rather different when Huxley arrived. Huxley was not a skilled administrator; his wife said "He was impatient... and lacked tact". He instituted a number of changes and innovations, more than some approved of. For example, Huxley introduced a whole range of ideas designed to make the Zoo child-friendly. Today, this would pass without comment; but then it was more controversial. He fenced off the Fellows' Lawn to establish Pets Corner; he appointed new assistant curators, encouraging them to talk to children; he initiated the Zoo Magazine. Fellows and their guests had the privilege of free entry on Sundays, a closed day to the general public. Today, that would be unthinkable, and Sundays are now open to the public. Huxley's mild suggestion (that the guests should pay) encroached on territory the Fellows thought was theirs by right.

In 1941 Huxley was invited to the United States on a lecturing tour, and generated some controversy by saying that he thought the United States should join World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

: a few weeks later came the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

. When the USA joined the war, he found it difficult to get a passage back to the UK, and his lecture tour was extended. The Council of the Zoological Society — "a curious assemblage... of wealthy amateurs, self-perpetuating and autocratic" — uneasy with their Secretary, used this as an opportunity to remove him. This they did by the rather unpleasant tactic of abolishing his post "to save expenses". Since Huxley had taken a half-salary cut at the start of the war, and no salary at all whilst he was in America, the Council's action was widely read as a personal attack on Huxley. A public controversy ensued, but eventually the Council got its way.

In 1943 he was asked by the British government to join the Colonial Commission on Higher Education. The Commission's remit was to survey the West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

n Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 countries for suitable locations for the creation of universities. There he acquired a disease, went down with hepatitis
Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The name is from the Greek hepar , the root being hepat- , meaning liver, and suffix -itis, meaning "inflammation"...

, and had a serious mental breakdown. He was completely disabled, treated with ECT
Electroconvulsive therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy , formerly known as electroshock, is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. Its mode of action is unknown...

, and took a full year to recover. He was 55.

Later career


Huxley, a lifelong internationalist with a concern for education, got involved in the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

), and became the organization's first Director-General in 1946. His term of office, six years in the Charter, was cut down to two years at the behest of the USA delegation. The reasons are not known for sure, but his left-wing tendencies and humanism were likely factors. In a fortnight he dashed off a 60-page booklet on the purpose and philosophy of UNESCO, eventually printed and issued as an official document. There were, however, many conservative opponents of his scientific humanism. His idea of restraining population growth with birth control was anathema to both the Catholic Church and the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

/Cominform
Cominform
Founded in 1947, Cominform is the common name for what was officially referred to as the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties...

. In its first few years UNESCO was dynamic and broke new ground; since Huxley it has become larger, more bureaucratic and stable. The personal and social side of the years in Paris are well described by his wife.

Huxley's internationalist and conservation interests also led him, with Victor Stolan
Victor Stolan
Victor Stolan provided "the germ of the idea" that led Julian Huxley and Max Nicholson with him to start the World Wildlife Fund. They together with others they recruited founded the organization on 11 September 1961 in Switzerland....

, Sir Peter Scott
Peter Scott
Sir Peter Markham Scott, CH, CBE, DSC and Bar, MID, FRS, FZS, was a British ornithologist, conservationist, painter, naval officer and sportsman....

, Max Nicholson and Guy Mountfort
Guy Mountfort
Guy Mountfort OBE was an English advertising executive, amateur ornithologist and conservationist.-Biography:...

, to set up the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 under its former name of the World Wildlife Fund).

Another post-war activity was Huxley's attack on the Soviet politico-scientist Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist of Ukrainian origin, who was director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful...

, who had espoused a Lamarckian heredity, made unscientific pronouncements on agriculture, used his influence to destroy classical genetics in Russia and to move genuine scientists from their posts. In 1940, the leading botanical geneticist Nikolai Vavilov
Nikolai Vavilov
Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov was a prominent Russian and Soviet botanist and geneticist best known for having identified the centres of origin of cultivated plants...

 was arrested, and Lysenko replaced him as director of the Institute of Genetics. In 1941, Vavilov was tried, found guilty of 'sabotage' and sentenced to death. Reprieved, he died in jail of malnutrition in 1943. Lysenko's machinations were the cause of his arrest. Worse still, Lysenkoism
Lysenkoism
Lysenkoism, or Lysenko-Michurinism, also denotes the biological inheritance principle which Trofim Lysenko subscribed to and which derive from theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics, a body of biological inheritance theory which departs from Mendelism and that Lysenko named...

 not only denied proven genetic facts, it stopped the artificial selection
Artificial selection
Artificial selection describes intentional breeding for certain traits, or combination of traits. The term was utilized by Charles Darwin in contrast to natural selection, in which the differential reproduction of organisms with certain traits is attributed to improved survival or reproductive...

 of crops on Darwinian principles. This may have contributed to the regular shortage of food from the Soviet agricultural system (Soviet famines
Famines in Russia and USSR
Droughts and famines in Russia and the USSR tended to occur on a fairly regular basis, with famine occurring every 10–13 years and droughts every 5–7 years...

). Huxley, who had twice visited the Soviet Union, was originally not anti-communist, but the ruthless adoption of Lysenkoism by Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 ended his tolerant attitude. Lysenko ended his days in a Soviet mental hospital, and Vavilov's reputation was posthumously restored in 1955.

In the 1950s Huxley played a role in bringing to the English-speaking public the work of the French Jesuit-palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of both Piltdown Man and Peking Man. Teilhard conceived the idea of the Omega Point and developed Vladimir Vernadsky's concept of Noosphere...

, whom he believed had been unfairly treated by the Catholic and Jesuit hierarchy. Both men believed in evolution, but differed in its interpretation as de Chardin was a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, whilst Huxley was an unbeliever. Huxley wrote the forward to The Phenomenon of Man
The Phenomenon of Man
The Phenomenon of Man is a book written by French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In this work, Teilhard describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness.The book was finished in the...

 (1959) and was bitterly attacked by his rationalist friends for doing so.

On Huxley's death at 87 in 1975, John Owen (Director of National Parks for Tanganyika
Tanganyika
Tanganyika , later formally the Republic of Tanganyika, was a sovereign state in East Africa from 1961 to 1964. It was situated between the Indian Ocean and the African Great Lakes of Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika...

) wrote "Julian Huxley was one of the world's great men... he played a seminal role in wild life conservation in [East] Africa in the early days... [and in] the far-reaching influence he exerted [on] the international community".

In addition to his international and humanist concerns, his research interests covered evolution in all its aspects, ethology
Ethology
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

, embryology
Embryology
Embryology is a science which is about the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage...

, genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and to some extent the infant field of cell biology
Cell biology
Cell biology is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level...

. Julian's eminence as an advocate for evolution, and especially his contribution to the new evolutionary synthesis
Modern evolutionary synthesis
The modern evolutionary synthesis is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which provides a widely accepted account of evolution...

, led to his awards of the Darwin Medal
Darwin Medal
The Darwin Medal is awarded by the Royal Society every alternate year for "work of acknowledged distinction in the broad area of biology in which Charles Darwin worked, notably in evolution, population biology, organismal biology and biological diversity". First awarded in 1890, it was created in...

 of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 in 1956, and the Darwin–Wallace Medal of the Linnaean Society in 1958. 1958 was the centenary anniversary of the joint presentation On the tendency of species to form varieties; and the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection by Darwin and Wallace.

Huxley was a friend and mentor of the biologists and Nobel
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 laureates Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Zacharias Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist. He shared the 1973 Nobel Prize with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch...

 and Niko Tinbergen, and taught and encouraged many others. In general, he was more of an all-round naturalist than his famous grandfather, and contributed much to the acceptance of natural selection. His outlook was international, and somewhat idealistic: his interest in progress and evolutionary humanism runs through much of his published work.

Evolution


Huxley was the most important biologist after August Weismann
August Weismann
Friedrich Leopold August Weismann was a German evolutionary biologist. Ernst Mayr ranked him the second most notable evolutionary theorist of the 19th century, after Charles Darwin...

 to insist on natural selection as the primary agent in evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

. He was a major player in the mid-twentieth century evolutionary synthesis. A fine communicator, he was a prominent populariser of biological science to the public. Three aspects deserve special mention:

Personal influence

  • In the early 20th century he was one of the minority of biologists who believed that natural selection
    Natural selection
    Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

     was the main driving force of evolution, and that evolution occurred by small steps and not by saltation
    Saltation (biology)
    In biology, ""saltation"" is a sudden change from one generation to the next, that is large, or very large, in comparison with the usual variation of an organism...

     (jumps). These opinions are now standard.
    Though his time as an academic was quite brief, he taught and encouraged a number of evolutionary biologists at the University of Oxford in the 1920s. Charles Elton
    Charles Sutherland Elton
    Charles Sutherland Elton FRS was an English zoologist and animal ecologist. His name is associated with the establishment of modern population and community ecology, including studies of invasive organisms.-Personal life:...

     (ecology
    Ecology
    Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

    ), Alister Hardy
    Alister Hardy
    Sir Alister Clavering Hardy, FRS was an English marine biologist, expert on zooplankton and marine ecosystems...

     (marine biology
    Marine biology
    Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Given that in biology many phyla, families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others that live on land, marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather...

    ) and John Baker
    John Baker (biologist)
    John Randal Baker FRS was a biologist, physical anthropologist, and professor at the University of Oxford in the mid-twentieth century. He is best remembered for his 1974 book, Race, which classifies human races in the same way in which animal subspecies are classified...

     (cytology
    Cell biology
    Cell biology is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level...

    ) all became highly successful, and Baker eventually wrote Huxley's Royal Society obituary memoir.
    Perhaps the most significant was Edmund Brisco Ford, who founded a field of research called ecological genetics
    Ecological genetics
    Ecological genetics is the study of genetics in natural populations.This contrasts with classical genetics, which works mostly on crosses between laboratory strains, and DNA sequence analysis, which studies genes at the molecular level....

    , which played a role in the evolutionary synthesis. Another important disciple was Gavin de Beer
    Gavin de Beer
    Sir Gavin Rylands de Beer FRS was a British evolutionary embryologist. He was Director of the British Museum , President of the Linnean Society, and received the Royal Society's Darwin Medal for his studies on evolution.-Biography:...

    , who wrote on evolution and development, and became Director of the Natural History Museum
    Natural History Museum
    The Natural History Museum is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, England . Its main frontage is on Cromwell Road...

    . Both these fine scholars had attended Huxley's lectures on genetics
    Genetics
    Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

    , experimental zoology
    Zoology
    Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

     (including embryology
    Embryology
    Embryology is a science which is about the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage...

    ) and ethology
    Ethology
    Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

    . Later, they became his collaborators, and then leaders in their own right.
  • In an era when scientists did not travel so frequently as today, Huxley was an exception, for he travelled widely in Europe, Africa and the USA. He was therefore able to learn from and influence other scientists, naturalists and administrators. In the USA he was able to meet other evolutionists at a critical time in the reassessment of natural selection
    Natural selection
    Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

    . In Africa he was able to influence colonial administrators about education and wild-life conservation
    Conservation movement
    The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animal, fungus and plant species as well as their habitat for the future....

    . In Europe, through UNESCO
    UNESCO
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

    , he was at the centre of the post-World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     revival of education. In Russia, however, his experiences were mixed. His initially favourable view was changed by his growing awareness of Stalin's murderous repression, and the Lysenko
    Trofim Lysenko
    Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist of Ukrainian origin, who was director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful...

     affair. There seems little evidence that he had any effect on the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

    , and the same could be said for some other Western scientists.
    "Marxist-Leninism had become a dogmatic religion... and like all dogmatic religions, it had turned from reform to persecution."

Evolutionary synthesis

  • Huxley was one of the main architects of the new evolutionary synthesis
    Modern evolutionary synthesis
    The modern evolutionary synthesis is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which provides a widely accepted account of evolution...

     which took place around the time of World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    . The synthesis of genetic and population ideas produced a consensus which reigned in biology from about 1940, and which is still broadly tenable.

"The most informative episode in the history of evolutionary biology was the establishment of the 'neo-Darwinian synthesis'." Berry and Bradshaw, 1992. The synthesis was brought about "not by one side being proved right and the others wrong, but by the exchange of the most viable components of the previously competing research strategies". Ernst Mayr, 1980.
  • Huxley's first 'trial run' was the treatment of evolution in the Science of Life (1929–30), and in 1936 he published a long and significant paper for the British Association. In 1938 came three lengthy reviews on major evolutionary topics. Two of these papers were on the subject of sexual selection
    Sexual selection
    Sexual selection, a concept introduced by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, is a significant element of his theory of natural selection...

    , an idea of Darwin's whose standing has been revived in recent times. Huxley thought that sexual selection was "...merely an aspect of natural selection which... is concerned with characters which subserve mating, and are usually sex-limited". This rather grudging acceptance of sexual selection was influenced by his studies on the courtship of the Great Crested Grebe
    Great Crested Grebe
    The Great Crested Grebe is a member of the grebe family of water birds.- Description :The Great Crested Grebe is long with a wingspan. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations...

     (and other birds that pair for life): the courtship takes place mostly after mate selection, not before.
  • Now it was time for Huxley to tackle the subject of evolution at full length, in what became the defining work of his life. His role was that of a synthesiser, and it helped that he had met many of the other participants. His book Evolution: the modern synthesis
    Evolution: The Modern Synthesis
    Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, a 1942 book by Julian Huxley , is one of the most important books of the modern evolutionary synthesis.- Publication history :Allen & Unwin, London...

     was written whilst he was Secretary to the Zoological Society, and made use of his remarkable collection of reprints covering the first part of the century. It was published in 1942. Reviews of the book in learned journals were little short of ecstatic; the American Naturalist called it "The outstanding evolutionary treatise of the decade, perhaps of the century. The approach is thoroughly scientific; the command of basic information amazing".
  • Huxley's main co-respondents in the modern evolutionary synthesis
    Modern evolutionary synthesis
    The modern evolutionary synthesis is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which provides a widely accepted account of evolution...

     are usually listed as Ernst Mayr
    Ernst Mayr
    Ernst Walter Mayr was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist...

    , Theodosius Dobzhansky
    Theodosius Dobzhansky
    Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky ForMemRS was a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, and a central figure in the field of evolutionary biology for his work in shaping the unifying modern evolutionary synthesis...

    , George Gaylord Simpson
    George Gaylord Simpson
    George Gaylord Simpson was an American paleontologist. Simpson was perhaps the most influential paleontologist of the twentieth century, and a major participant in the modern evolutionary synthesis, contributing Tempo and mode in evolution , The meaning of evolution and The major features of...

    , Bernhard Rensch
    Bernhard Rensch
    Bernhard Rensch was a German evolutionary biologist, and ornithologist who did field work in Indonesia and India. He is probably best known as one of the architects of the modern evolutionary synthesis, which he popularised in Germany...

    , Ledyard Stebbins and the population geneticists J.B.S. Haldane, Ronald Fisher
    Ronald Fisher
    Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS was an English statistician, evolutionary biologist, eugenicist and geneticist. Among other things, Fisher is well known for his contributions to statistics by creating Fisher's exact test and Fisher's equation...

     and Sewall Wright
    Sewall Wright
    Sewall Green Wright was an American geneticist known for his influential work on evolutionary theory and also for his work on path analysis. With R. A. Fisher and J.B.S. Haldane, he was a founder of theoretical population genetics. He is the discoverer of the inbreeding coefficient and of...

    .
    However, at the time of Huxley's book several of these had yet to make their distinctive contribution. Certainly, for Huxley, E.B. Ford
    E.B. Ford
    Edmund Brisco "Henry" Ford FRS Hon. FRCP was a British ecological geneticist. He was a leader among those British biologists who investigated the role of natural selection in nature. As a schoolboy Ford became interested in lepidoptera, the group of insects which includes butterflies and moths...

     and his co-workers in ecological genetics
    Ecological genetics
    Ecological genetics is the study of genetics in natural populations.This contrasts with classical genetics, which works mostly on crosses between laboratory strains, and DNA sequence analysis, which studies genes at the molecular level....

     were at least as important; and Cyril Darlington, the chromosome expert, was a notable source of facts and ideas.
    An analysis of the 'authorities cited' index of Evolution the modern synthesis shows indirectly those whom Huxley regarded as the most important contributors to the synthesis up to 1941 (the book was published in 1942, and references go up to 1941). The authorities cited 20 or more times are:
    Darlington, Darwin
    Charles Darwin
    Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

    , Dobzhansky
    Theodosius Dobzhansky
    Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky ForMemRS was a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, and a central figure in the field of evolutionary biology for his work in shaping the unifying modern evolutionary synthesis...

    , Fisher
    Ronald Fisher
    Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS was an English statistician, evolutionary biologist, eugenicist and geneticist. Among other things, Fisher is well known for his contributions to statistics by creating Fisher's exact test and Fisher's equation...

    , Ford
    E.B. Ford
    Edmund Brisco "Henry" Ford FRS Hon. FRCP was a British ecological geneticist. He was a leader among those British biologists who investigated the role of natural selection in nature. As a schoolboy Ford became interested in lepidoptera, the group of insects which includes butterflies and moths...

    , Goldschmidt
    Richard Goldschmidt
    Richard Benedict Goldschmidt was a German-born American geneticist. He is considered the first to integrate genetics, development, and evolution. He pioneered understanding of reaction norms, genetic assimilation, dynamical genetics, sex determination, and heterochrony...

    , Haldane, J.S. Huxley, Muller, Rensch
    Bernhard Rensch
    Bernhard Rensch was a German evolutionary biologist, and ornithologist who did field work in Indonesia and India. He is probably best known as one of the architects of the modern evolutionary synthesis, which he popularised in Germany...

    , Turrill, Wright
    Sewall Wright
    Sewall Green Wright was an American geneticist known for his influential work on evolutionary theory and also for his work on path analysis. With R. A. Fisher and J.B.S. Haldane, he was a founder of theoretical population genetics. He is the discoverer of the inbreeding coefficient and of...

    .
    This list contains a few surprises. Goldschmidt was an influential geneticist who advocated evolution by saltation, and was sometimes mentioned in disagreement. Turrill provided Huxley with botanical information. The list omits three key members of the synthesis who are listed above: Mayr
    Ernst Mayr
    Ernst Walter Mayr was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist...

    , Stebbins
    G. Ledyard Stebbins
    George Ledyard Stebbins, Jr. was an American botanist and geneticist who is widely regarded as one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century. Stebbins received his Ph.D. in botany from Harvard University in 1931. He went on to the University of California, Berkeley, where his work...

     the botanist and Simpson
    George Gaylord Simpson
    George Gaylord Simpson was an American paleontologist. Simpson was perhaps the most influential paleontologist of the twentieth century, and a major participant in the modern evolutionary synthesis, contributing Tempo and mode in evolution , The meaning of evolution and The major features of...

     the palaeontologist. Mayr gets 16 citations and more in the two later editions; all three published outstanding and relevant books some years later, and their contribution to the synthesis is unquestionable. Their lesser weight in Huxley's citations was caused by the early publication date of his book. Huxley's book is not strong in palaeontology, which illustrates perfectly why Simpson's later works were such an important contribution.
  • It was Huxley who coined the terms the new synthesis and evolutionary synthesis; he also invented the term cline
    Cline (population genetics)
    In biology, an ecocline or simply cline describes an ecotone in which a series of biocommunities display continuous gradient...

     in 1938 to describe species whose members fall into a series of sub-species with continuous change in characters over a geographical area. The classic example of a cline is the circle of subspecies of the gull Larus
    Larus
    Larus is a large genus of gulls with worldwide distribution . Many of its species are abundant and well-known birds in their ranges...

     round the Arctic zone. This cline is an example of a ring species
    Ring species
    In biology, a ring species is a connected series of neighboring populations, each of which can interbreed with closely sited related populations, but for which there exist at least two "end" populations in the series, which are too distantly related to interbreed, though there is a potential gene...

    .
    Some of Huxley's last contributions to the evolutionary synthesis were on the subject of ecological genetics
    Ecological genetics
    Ecological genetics is the study of genetics in natural populations.This contrasts with classical genetics, which works mostly on crosses between laboratory strains, and DNA sequence analysis, which studies genes at the molecular level....

    . He noted how surprisingly widespread polymorphism
    Polymorphism (biology)
    Polymorphism in biology occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species — in other words, the occurrence of more than one form or morph...

     is in nature, with visible morphism much more prevalent in some groups than others. The immense diversity of colour and pattern in small bivalve molluscs, brittlestars, sea-anemones, tubicular polychaetes and various grasshoppers is perhaps maintained by making recognition by predators more difficult.

Evolutionary progress

  • He always believed that on a broad view evolution led to advances in organisation. Progress without a goal was one of his phrases, to distinguish his point of view from classical Aristotelian
    Aristotle
    Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

     teleology
    Teleology
    A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

    . "The ordinary man, or at least the ordinary poet, philosopher and theologian, always was anxious to find purpose in the evolutionary process. I believe this reasoning to be totally false."
    The idea of evolutionary progress was subjected to some fierce criticism in the latter part of the twentieth century. Cladists, for example, were (and are) strongly against any suggestion that a group could be scientifically described as 'advanced' and others as 'primitive'. For them, and especially for the radical group of transformed cladists, there is no such thing as an advanced group, they are derived or apomorphic. Primitive groups are plesiomorphic. Ironically, it was Huxley who invented the terms clade
    Clade
    A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

     and grades
    Evolutionary grade
    In alpha taxonomy, a grade refers to a taxon united by a level of morphological or physiological complexity. The term was coined by British biologist Julian Huxley, to contrast with clade, a strictly phylogenetic unit.-Definition:...

    .
    However, to take a rather extreme case, it would seem strange to say that when man is compared to bacteria, that mankind is not a vastly more complex and advanced form of life; or that the invasion of the land by plants and animals was not a great advance in the history of life on this planet. On this issue Julian was at the opposite end of the spectrum from his grandfather, who was, at least for the first half of his career, a propagandist for 'persistent types', getting close to denying any advances at all.

  • Huxley argued his case many times, even in his most important works. In the final chapter of his Evolution the modern synthesis he defines evolutionary progress as "a raising of the upper level of biological efficiency, this being defined as increased control over and independence of the environment,"
    Evolution in action discusses evolutionary progress at length: "Natural selection plus time produces biological improvement... 'Improvement' is not yet a recognised technical term in biology... however, living things are improved during evolution... Darwin was not afraid to use the word for the results of natural selection in general... I believe that improvement can become one of the key concepts in evolutionary biology."
    "Can it be scientifically defined? Improvements in biological machinery... the limbs and teeth of grazing horses... the increase in brain-power... The eyes of a dragon-fly, which can see all round [it] in every direction, are an improvement over the mere microscopic eye-spots of early forms of life."
    "[Over] the whole range of evolutionary time we see general advance — improvement in all the main properties of life, including its general organization. 'Advance' is thus a useful term for long-term improvement in some general property of life. [But] improvement is not universal. Lower forms manage to survive alongside higher".
    These excerpts are much abbreviated, but give some idea of his way of thinking. He addresses the topic of 'persistent types' (living fossils) later in the same book (pp 126–8).

  • The question of evolutionary advancement has quite a history. Of course, pre-Darwin, it was believed without question that Man stood at the head of a pyramid (scala naturae). The matter is not so simple with evolution by natural selection; Darwin's own opinion varied from time to time. In the Origin he wrote "And as natural selection works by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection". This was much too strong; as Sober remarks, there is nothing in the theory of natural selection which demands that selection must produce an increase in complexity or any other measure of advancement. It is merely compatible with the theory that this might happen. Elsewhere Darwin admits that "naturalists have not yet defined to each other's satisfaction what is meant by high and low forms" (p336); nor have they now – this is one of the problems. Other evolutionary biologists have had similar thoughts to Huxley: G. Ledyard Stebbins
    G. Ledyard Stebbins
    George Ledyard Stebbins, Jr. was an American botanist and geneticist who is widely regarded as one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century. Stebbins received his Ph.D. in botany from Harvard University in 1931. He went on to the University of California, Berkeley, where his work...

     and Bernhard Rensch
    Bernhard Rensch
    Bernhard Rensch was a German evolutionary biologist, and ornithologist who did field work in Indonesia and India. He is probably best known as one of the architects of the modern evolutionary synthesis, which he popularised in Germany...

    , for example. The term used to describe progressive evolution is anagenesis
    Anagenesis
    Anagenesis, also known as "phyletic change," is the evolution of species involving an entire population rather than a branching event, as in cladogenesis. When enough mutations have occurred and become stable in a population so that it is significantly differentiated from an ancestral population,...

    , though this term does not necessarily include the idea of improvement.
    The objective description of complexity was one of the issues addressed by cybernetics
    Cybernetics
    Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

     in the 1950s. The idea that advanced machines (including living beings) could exert more control over their environments and operate in a wider range of situations perhaps serves as a basis for making the terms such as 'advanced' amenable to more exact definition. This is a debate that continues today.


For a modern survey of the idea of progress in evolution see Nitecki and Dawkins.

Secular humanism


Huxley's humanism
Secular humanism
Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism , is a secular philosophy that embraces human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment...

 came from his appreciation that mankind was in charge of its own destiny (at least in principle), and this raised the need for a sense of direction and a system of ethics. His grandfather T.H. Huxley, when faced with similar problems, had promoted agnosticism, but Julian chose humanism as being more directed to supplying a basis for ethics. Julian's thinking went along these lines: "The critical point in the evolution of man... was when he acquired the use of [language]... Man's development is potentially open... He has developed a new method of evolution: the transmission of organized experience by way of tradition, which... largely overrides the automatic process of natural selection as the agent of change". Both Huxley and his grandfather gave Romanes Lectures on the possible connection between evolution and ethics. (see evolutionary ethics
Evolutionary ethics
Evolutionary ethics could be either a form of descriptive ethics or normative ethics.Descriptive evolutionary ethics consists of biological approaches to ethics based on the role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior...

)

Huxley had a close association with the British rationalist and secular humanist
Secular humanism
Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism , is a secular philosophy that embraces human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment...

 movements. He was an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association from 1927 until his death, and on the formation of the British Humanist Association
British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes Humanism and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." The BHA is committed to secularism, human rights, democracy, egalitarianism and mutual respect...

 in 1963 became its first President, to be succeeded by AJ Ayer
Alfred Ayer
Sir Alfred Jules "Freddie" Ayer was a British philosopher known for his promotion of logical positivism, particularly in his books Language, Truth, and Logic and The Problem of Knowledge ....

 in 1965. He was also closely involved with the International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union
The International Humanist and Ethical Union is an umbrella organisation embracing humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, freethought and Ethical Culture organisations worldwide. Founded in Amsterdam in 1952, the IHEU is a democratic union of more than 100 member organizations in 40...

. Many of Huxley's books address humanist themes. In 1962 Huxley accepted the American Humanist Association
American Humanist Association
The American Humanist Association is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that...

's annual "Humanist of the Year" award.

Huxley also presided over the founding Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
International Humanist and Ethical Union
The International Humanist and Ethical Union is an umbrella organisation embracing humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, freethought and Ethical Culture organisations worldwide. Founded in Amsterdam in 1952, the IHEU is a democratic union of more than 100 member organizations in 40...

 and served with John Dewey
John Dewey
John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey was an important early developer of the philosophy of pragmatism and one of the founders of functional psychology...

, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

 on the founding advisory board of the First Humanist Society of New York.

Religious naturalism


Huxley wrote that "There is no separate supernatural realm: all phenomena are part of one natural process of evolution. There is no basic cleavage between science and religion;... I believe that [a] drastic reorganization of our pattern of religious thought is now becoming necessary, from a god-centered to an evolutionary-centered pattern". Some believe the appropriate label for these views is religious naturalism
Religious naturalism
Religious naturalism is an approach to spirituality that is devoid of supernaturalism. The focus is on the religious attributes of the universe/Nature, the understanding of it and our response to it . These provide for the development of an eco-morality...

.

Eugenics and race


Huxley was a prominent member of the British Eugenics Society, and was Vice-President (1937–1944) and President (1959–1962). He thought eugenics was important for removing undesirable variants from the human gene pool; but at least after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 he believed race was a meaningless concept in biology, and its application to humans was highly inconsistent.

Huxley was an outspoken critic of the most extreme eugenicism in the 1920s and 1930s (the stimulus for which was the greater fertility of the 'feckless' poor compared to the 'responsible' prosperous classes). He was, nevertheless, a leading figure in the eugenics movement (see, for example, Eugenics manifesto
Eugenics manifesto
Eugenics manifesto was the name given to an article supporting eugenics. This manifesto was published in the journal Nature in 1939. This manifesto, dated September 1939, supported eugenics. The original title was Social Biology and Population Improvement...

). He gave the Galton memorial lecture twice, in 1936 and 1962. In his writing he used this argument several times: no-one doubts the wisdom of managing the germ-plasm of agricultural stocks, so why not apply the same concept to human stocks? "The agricultural analogy appears over and over again as it did in the writings of many American eugenicists."

Huxley was one of many intellectuals at the time who believed that the lowest class in society was genetically inferior. This passage, from 1941, puts the view forcefully:
"The lowest strata are reproducing too fast. Therefore... they must not have too easy access to relief or hospital treatment lest the removal of the last check on natural selection should make it too easy for children to be produced or to survive; long unemployment should be a ground for sterilisation."


Here, he does not demean the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 in general, but aims for "the virtual elimination of the few lowest and most degenerate types". The sentiment is not at all atypical of the time, and similar views were held by many geneticists (William E. Castle
William E. Castle
William Ernest Castle was an early American geneticist.-Early years:William Ernest Castle was born on a farm in Ohio and took an early interest in natural history...

, C.B. Davenport, H.J. Muller are examples), and by other prominent intellectuals.

Concerning a public health and racial policy in general, Huxley wrote that "...unless [civilised societies] invent and enforce adequate measures for regulating human reproduction, for controlling the quantity of population, and at least preventing the deterioration of quality of racial stock, they are doomed to decay..." and remarked how biology should be the chief tool for rendering social politics scientific.

In the opinion of Duvall, "His views fell well within the spectrum of opinion acceptable to the English liberal intellectual elite. He shared Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

s enthusiasm for birth control, and 'voluntary' sterilization." However, the word 'English' in this passage is unnecessary: such views were widespread. Duvall comments that Huxley's enthusiasm for centralised social and economic planning
Planning
Planning in organizations and public policy is both the organizational process of creating and maintaining a plan; and the psychological process of thinking about the activities required to create a desired goal on some scale. As such, it is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior...

 and anti-industrial values was common to leftist ideologists
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 during the inter-war years. Towards the end of his life Huxley himself must have recognised how unpopular these views became after the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. In the two volumes of his autobiography there is no mention of eugenics in the index, nor is Galton mentioned; and the subject has also been omitted from many of the obituaries and biographies. An exception is the proceedings of a conference organised by the British Eugenics Society.

In response to the rise of European fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 in the 1930s he was asked to write We Europeans with the ethnologist A.C. Haddon
Alfred Cort Haddon
Alfred Cort Haddon, Sc.D., FRS, FRGS was an influential British anthropologist and ethnologist.Initially a biologist, who achieved his most notable fieldwork, with W.H.R. Rivers, C.G. Seligman, Sidney Ray, Anthony Wilkin on the Torres Strait Islands...

, zoologist Alexander Carr-Saunders
Alexander Carr-Saunders
Sir Alexander Morris Carr-Saunders, KBE, FBA was an English biologist and sociologist.Carr-Saunders was born in Reigate, Surrey and educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford where he gained a 1st in zoology in 1908...

 and historian of science Charles Singer
Charles Singer
Charles Joseph Singer was a British historian of science, technology, and medicine.-Early years:Singer was born in Camberwell in London, where his father Simeon Singer was a minister and Hebraist. He was educated at City of London School, University College London, and Magdalen College, Oxford...

. Huxley suggested the word 'race' be replaced with ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

. After the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 he was instrumental in producing the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 statement The Race Question
The Race Question
The Race Question is the first of four UNESCO statements about issues of race. It was issued on 18 July 1950 following World War II and Nazi racism. The statement was an attempt to clarify what was scientifically known about race and a moral condemnation of racism...

, which asserted that:
"A race, from the biological standpoint, may therefore be defined as one of the group of populations constituting the species Homo sapiens"... "Now what has the scientist to say about the groups of mankind which may be recognized at the present time? Human races can be and have been differently classified by different anthropologists, but at the present time most anthropologists agree on classifying the greater part of present-day mankind into three major divisions, as follows: The Mongoloid Division; The Negroid Division; The Caucasoid Division."... "Catholics, Protestants, Moslems and Jews are not races..."


Huxley won the second Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for We Europeans in 1937.

In 1957 Huxley coined the term "transhumanism
Transhumanism
Transhumanism, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human...

" to describe the view that man should better himself through science and technology, possibly including eugenics, but also, importantly, the improvement of the social environment.

Public life and popularisation


Huxley was always able to write well, and was ever willing to address the public on scientific topics. Well over half his books are addressed to an educated general audience, and he wrote often in periodicals and newspapers. The most extensive bibliography of Huxley lists some of these ephemeral articles, though there are others unrecorded.

These articles, some reissued as Essays of a biologist (1923), probably led to the invitation from H.G. Wells to help write a comprehensive work on biology for a general readership, The Science of Life. This work was published in stages in 1929–30, and in one volume in 1931. Of this Robert Olby
Robert Olby
Robert Cecil Olby is a research professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Formerly at the University of Leeds, UK, Robert Olby is known as a historian of 19th and 20th century biology, his special fields being genetics and molecular biology...

 said "Book IV The essence of the controversies about evolution offers perhaps the clearest, most readable, succinct and informative popular account of the subject ever penned. It was here that he first expounded his own version of what later developed into the evolutionary synthesis". In his memoirs, Huxley says that, all told, he made close to £10,000 out of the book.

In 1934 Huxley collaborated with the naturalist Ronald Lockley
Ronald Lockley
Ronald Mathias Lockley was a Welsh naturalist and author who spent much of his later life in New Zealand. He wrote over fifty books, including The Private Life of the Rabbit , which played an important role in the plot development of Richard Adams' famous book Watership Down...

 to create for Alexander Korda
Alexander Korda
Sir Alexander Korda was a Hungarian-born British producer and film director. He was a leading figure in the British film industry, the founder of London Films and the owner of British Lion Films, a film distributing company.-Life and career:The elder brother of filmmakers Zoltán Korda and Vincent...

 the world's first natural history documentary The Private Life of the Gannets
The Private Life of the Gannets
The Private Life of the Gannets is a 1934 short documentary film, directed by Julian Huxley, about a colony of Northern Gannet on the small rocky island of Grassholm, off the coast of Wales. It received a special mention at the 3rd Venice International Film Festival in 1935 and won the Best Short...

. For the film, shot with the support of the Royal Navy around Grassholm off the Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

 coast, they won an Oscar
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for best documentary.

Huxley had given talks on the radio since the 1920s, followed by written versions in The Listener. In later life, he became known to an even wider audience through television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

. In 1939 the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 asked him to be a regular panelist on a Home Service
BBC Home Service
The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station which broadcast from 1939 until 1967.-Development:Between the 1920s and the outbreak of The Second World War, the BBC had developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme...

 general knowledge show, The Brains Trust
The Brains Trust
The Brains Trust was a popular informational BBC radio and later television programme in the United Kingdom during the 1940s and 50s.- History :...

, in which he and other panelists were asked to discuss questions submitted by listeners. The show was commissioned to keep up war time morale, by preventing the war from "disrupting the normal discussion of interesting ideas". The audience was not large for this somewhat elite program; however, listener research ranked Huxley the most popular member of the Brains Trust from 1941 to 1944.
Later, he was a regular panelist on one of the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's first quiz shows (1955) Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? in which participants were asked to talk about objects chosen from museum and university collections.

In his essay The Crowded World Huxley was openly critical of Communist and Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 attitudes to birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

, population control
Population control
Human population control is the practice of artificially altering the rate of growth of a human population.Historically, human population control has been implemented by limiting the population's birth rate, usually by government mandate, and has been undertaken as a response to factors including...

 and overpopulation
Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

. Based on variable rates of compound interest
Compound interest
Compound interest arises when interest is added to the principal, so that from that moment on, the interest that has been added also itself earns interest. This addition of interest to the principal is called compounding...

, Huxley predicted a probable world population
World population
The world population is the total number of living humans on the planet Earth. As of today, it is estimated to be  billion by the United States Census Bureau...

 of 6 billion by 2000. The United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Population Fund
The United Nations Population Fund is a UN organization. The work of the UNFPA involves promotion of the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. This is done through major national and demographic surveys and with population censuses...

 marked 12 October 1999 as The Day of Six Billion.

Terms coined


Huxley's use of language was highly skilled, and when no word seemed to suit he invented one. These are the most significant:
  • Clade
    Clade
    A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

     1957: a monophyletic taxon
    Taxon
    |thumb|270px|[[African elephants]] form a widely-accepted taxon, the [[genus]] LoxodontaA taxon is a group of organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement...

    ; a single species and its descendents.
  • Cline
    Cline (population genetics)
    In biology, an ecocline or simply cline describes an ecotone in which a series of biocommunities display continuous gradient...

     1938: a gradient of gene frequencies in a population, along a given transect.
  • Grade
    Evolutionary grade
    In alpha taxonomy, a grade refers to a taxon united by a level of morphological or physiological complexity. The term was coined by British biologist Julian Huxley, to contrast with clade, a strictly phylogenetic unit.-Definition:...

     1959: a level of evolutionary advance.
  • Ethnic group
    Ethnic group
    An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

     1936: as opposed to race
  • Mentifact
    Mentifact
    Mentifact is a term coined by Sir Julian Sorell Huxley, used together with the related terms "sociofact" and "artifact" to describe how cultural traits, such as "beliefs, values, ideas," take on a life of their own spanning over generations, and are conceivable as objects in themselves...

     1955: objects which consist of ideas in people's minds.
  • Morph
    Polymorphism (biology)
    Polymorphism in biology occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species — in other words, the occurrence of more than one form or morph...

     1942: as more correct and simpler than polymorph
    Polymorphism (biology)
    Polymorphism in biology occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species — in other words, the occurrence of more than one form or morph...

    .
  • Ritualization
    Ritualization
    Ritualization is a behavior that occurs typically in a member of a given species in a highly stereotyped fashion and independent of any direct physiological significance....

     1914: formalised activities in bird behaviour, caused by inherited behaviour chains.
  • Sociofact
    Sociofact
    Term coined by Sir Julian Sorell Huxley, used together with the related terms "mentifact" and "artifact" to describe how cultural traits take on a life of their own, spanning over generations. This idea is related to memetics. The idea of the sociofact was developed extensively by David Bidney in...

     1955: objects which consist of interactions between members of a social group.
  • Transhumanism
    Transhumanism
    Transhumanism, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human...

     1957: the improvement of human beings.

Titles and phrases


Huxley always chose his titles carefully. He wrote about fifty books (depending on how you count them), and these themes are characteristic:
  • Religion without revelation (1927, 1957)
  • The new systematics
    Systematics
    Biological systematics is the study of the diversification of terrestrial life, both past and present, and the relationships among living things through time. Relationships are visualized as evolutionary trees...

     (1940)
  • The uniqueness of man (1941)
  • Evolution: the modern synthesis (1942)
  • Evolutionary ethics
    Evolutionary ethics
    Evolutionary ethics could be either a form of descriptive ethics or normative ethics.Descriptive evolutionary ethics consists of biological approaches to ethics based on the role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior...

     (1943)
  • Evolution as a process (1954)
  • Essays of a humanist (1964)
  • The future of man (1966)

Works

  • The individual in the animal kingdom (1911)
  • The courtship habits of the Great Crested Grebe
    Great Crested Grebe
    The Great Crested Grebe is a member of the grebe family of water birds.- Description :The Great Crested Grebe is long with a wingspan. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations...

     (1914) [a landmark in ethology
    Ethology
    Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

    ]
  • Essays of a Biologist (1923)
  • Essays in Popular Science (1926)
  • The stream of life (1926)
  • Animal biology (with J.B.S. Haldane, 1927)
  • Religion without revelation (1927, revised edition 1957)
  • The tissue-culture
    Tissue culture
    Tissue culture is the growth of tissues or cells separate from the organism. This is typically facilitated via use of a liquid, semi-solid, or solid growth medium, such as broth or agar...

     king (1927) [science fiction]
  • Ants (1929)
  • The science of life: a summary of contemporary knowledge about life and its possibilities (with H.G. & G.P. Wells, 1929–30). First issued in 31 fortnightly parts published by Amalgamated Press, 1929–31, bound up in three volumes as publication proceeded. First issued in one volume by Cassell in 1931, reprinted 1934, 1937, popular edition, fully revised, 1938. Published as separate volumes by Cassell 1934–37: I The living body. II Patterns of life (1934). III Evolution—fact and theory. IV Reproduction, heredity and the development of sex. V The history and adventure of life. VI The drama of life. VII How animals behave (1937). VIII Man's mind and behaviour. IX Biology and the human race. Published in New York by Doubleday, Doran & Co. 1931, 1934, 1939; and by The Literary Guild 1934. Three of the Cassell spin-off books were also published by Doubleday in 1932: Evolution, fact and theory; The human mind and the behavior of Man; Reproduction, genetics and the development of sex.
  • Bird-watching and bird behaviour (1930)
  • An introduction to science (with Edward Andrade
    Edward Andrade
    Edward Neville da Costa Andrade FRS was an English physicist, writer, and poet.-Background:Andrade was a Sephardi Jew and is a descendant Moses da Costa Andrade...

    , 1931–34)
  • What dare I think?: the challenge of modern science to human action and belief. Chatto & Windus, London; Harper, N.Y. (1931)
  • Africa view (1931)
  • The captive shrew and other poems (1932)
  • Problems of relative growth (1932)
  • A scientist among the Soviets (1932)
  • If I were Dictator. Methuen, London; Harper, N.Y. (1934)
  • Scientific research and social needs (1934)
  • Elements of experimental embryology
    Embryology
    Embryology is a science which is about the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage...

     (with Gavin de Beer
    Gavin de Beer
    Sir Gavin Rylands de Beer FRS was a British evolutionary embryologist. He was Director of the British Museum , President of the Linnean Society, and received the Royal Society's Darwin Medal for his studies on evolution.-Biography:...

    , 1934)
  • Thomas Huxley's diary of the voyage of HMS Rattlesnake
    HMS Rattlesnake
    Nine ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Rattlesnake, including:, a 10 gun cutter launched 1777. Lost 1782, ex Cormorant of 1781. A 12 gun brig. Sold 1786, a 16-gun sloop in service from 1791, a 28-gun frigate launched in 1822, a torpedo gunboat in service from 1886 to 1910* HMS...

     (1935)
  • We Europeans
    European ethnic groups
    The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

     (with A.C. Haddon, 1936)
  • Animal language
    Animal language
    Animal language is the modeling of human language in non human animal systems. While the term is widely used, researchers agree that animal languages are not as complex or expressive as human language....

     (photographs by Ylla
    Ylla
    Ylla was the pseudonym of Camilla Koffler , a Hungarian photographer who specialized in animal photography. At the time of her death she "was generally considered the most proficient animal photographer in the world."...

    , includes recordings of animal calls: 1938, reprinted 1964)
  • The present standing of the theory of sexual selection
    Sexual selection
    Sexual selection, a concept introduced by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, is a significant element of his theory of natural selection...

    . In Gavin de Beer
    Gavin de Beer
    Sir Gavin Rylands de Beer FRS was a British evolutionary embryologist. He was Director of the British Museum , President of the Linnean Society, and received the Royal Society's Darwin Medal for his studies on evolution.-Biography:...

     (ed) Evolution: Essays on aspects of evolutionary biology (pp 11–42). Oxford: Clarendon Press (1938)
  • The living thoughts of Darwin
    Charles Darwin
    Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

     (1939)
  • The new systematics. Oxford. (1940) [this multi-author volume, edited by Huxley, is one of the foundation stones of the 'New Synthesis', with essays on taxonomy
    Taxonomy
    Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

    , evolution
    Evolution
    Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

    , natural selection
    Natural selection
    Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

    , Mendelian genetics and population genetics
    Population genetics
    Population genetics is the study of allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four main evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. It also takes into account the factors of recombination, population subdivision and population...

    ]
  • Democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

     marches. Chatto & Windus, London; Harper N.Y. (1941)
  • The uniqueness of man. Chatto & Windus, London. (1941; reprint 1943). U.S. as Man stands alone. Harper, N.Y. 1941.
  • On living in a revolution. Harper, N,Y. (1944)
  • Evolution: the modern synthesis. Allen & Unwin, London. (1942, reprinted 1943, 1944, 1945, 1948, 1955; 2nd ed, with new introduction and bibliography by the author, 1963; 3rd ed, with new introduction and bibliography by nine contributors, 1974). U.S. first edition by Harper, 1943. [this summarises research on all topics relevant to evolution up to the Second World War]. New edition by MIT Press in 2010 with Foreword by Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd B. Müller.
  • Evolutionary ethics (1943)
  • TVA: Adventure in planning
    Planning
    Planning in organizations and public policy is both the organizational process of creating and maintaining a plan; and the psychological process of thinking about the activities required to create a desired goal on some scale. As such, it is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior...

     (1944)
  • Evolution and ethics 1893–1943. Pilot, London. In USA as Touchstone for ethics Harper, N.Y. (1947) [includes text from both T.H. Huxley and Julian Huxley]
  • Man in the modern world (1947) eBook, essays selected from The uniqueness of man (1941) and On living in a revolution (1944)
  • Soviet genetics and World science: Lysenko
    Trofim Lysenko
    Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist of Ukrainian origin, who was director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful...

     and the meaning of heredity. Chatto & Windus, London. In USA as Heredity
    Heredity
    Heredity is the passing of traits to offspring . This is the process by which an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes predisposed to the characteristics of its parent cell or organism. Through heredity, variations exhibited by individuals can accumulate and cause some species to evolve...

    , East and West. Schuman, N.Y. (1949).
  • Evolution in action (1953)
  • Evolution as a process (with Hardy A.C.
    Alister Hardy
    Sir Alister Clavering Hardy, FRS was an English marine biologist, expert on zooplankton and marine ecosystems...

     and Ford E.B. eds.) Allen & Unwin, London. (1954)
  • From an antique land: ancient and modern in the Middle East. Parrish, London (1954, revised 1966)
  • Kingdom of the beasts (with W. Suschitzky, 1956)
  • Biological aspects of cancer
    Cancer
    Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

     (1957)
  • New bottles for new wine Chatto & Windus, London; Harper N.Y. (1957); repr as Knowledge, morality, destiny. N.Y. (1960)
  • The treasure house of wild life Nov 13, More meat from game than cattle Nov 13, Cropping the wild protein Nov 20, Wild life as a World Asset , second page Nov 27; The Observer
    The Observer
    The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

     newspaper articles that led to the setting up of the World Wildlife Fund  (1960)
  • The humanist frame (as editor, 1961)
  • The coming new religion of humanism
    Humanism
    Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

     (1962)
  • Essays of a humanist (1964) reprinted 1966, 1969, 1992: ISBN 0-87975-778-7
  • The human crisis (1964)
  • Darwin
    Charles Darwin
    Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

     and his world (with Bernard Kettlewell
    Bernard Kettlewell
    Henry Bernard Davis Kettlewell was a British geneticist, lepidopterist and medical doctor, who carried out research into the influence of industrial melanism on natural selection in moths, showing why moths are darker in polluted areas.-Early life:Kettlewell was born in Howden, Yorkshire, and...

    , 1965)
  • Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

     1894–1963: a memorial volume. (as editor, 1965)
  • The future of man: evolutionary aspects. (1966)
  • The wonderful world of evolution
    Evolution
    Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

     (1969)
  • Memories (2 vols 1970 & 1973) [his autobiography]
  • The Mitchell Beazley Atlas of World Wildlife. Mitchell Beazley, London; also published as The Atlas of World Wildlife. Purnell, Cape Town. (1973)

Biographies
  • Baker John R. 1978. Julian Huxley, scientist and world citizen, 1887–1975. UNESCO, Paris.
  • Clark, Ronald W. 1960. Sir Julian Huxley. Phoenix, London.
  • Clark, Ronald W. 1968. The Huxleys. Heinemann, London.
  • Dronamraju, Krishna R. 1993. If I am to be remembered: the life & work of Julian Huxley, with selected correspondence. World Scientific, Singapore.
  • Green, Jens-Peter 1981. Krise und Hoffnung, der Evolutionshumanismus Julian Huxleys. Carl Winter Universitatsverlag.
  • Huxley, Julian. 1970, 1973. Memories and Memories II. George Allen & Unwin, London.
  • Huxley, Juliette 1986. Leaves of the tulip tree. Murray, London [her autobiography includes much about Julian]
  • Keynes, Milo and Harrison, G. Ainsworth (eds) 1989. Evolutionary studies: a centenary celebration of the life of Julian Huxley. Proceeding of the 24th annual symposium of the Eugenics Society, London 1987. Macmillan, London.
  • Olby, Robert 2004. Huxley, Sir Julian Sorell (1887–1975). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (2680 words)
  • Waters, C. Kenneth and Van Helden, Albert (eds) 1993. Julian Huxley: biologist and statesman of science. Rice University Press, Houston. [scholarly articles by historians of science on Huxley's work and ideas]

External links


Awards