Fantastic article published by Chacruna. Here’s the introduction to the piece
Aldous Huxley’s 1954 classic The Doors of Perception is one of the most famous texts in the history of psychedelics. In this book, Aldous describes his first time taking mescaline with Dr. Humphry Osmond in May 1953 and highlights the important mystical component of his psychedelic experience. Many people see this book as foundational to the development of American scientific and countercultural interests in psychedelics. What many people do not know or realize is that a third participant was also present: Maria Nys Huxley, Aldous’ first wife.
Maria’s friends, family, and loved ones consistently described her as a charming, whimsical woman who deeply cared about her husband, often to the point where she prioritized his wellbeing and success over her own. The Belgian refugee was seventeen years old when she first met Aldous in 1915 while residing at Garsington Manor near Oxford, England. The two married in 1919, and had their son, Matthew, the following year. In 1937, the Huxley family relocated to Hollywood, California. Maria’s tendency to dote on Aldous continued up until her death from breast cancer on February 12, 1955.
But Maria was not just Aldous’ wife. She was a psychedelic pioneer in her own right. She was a direct participant in one of the most famous historical drug experiences in the United States, was instrumental to her husband’s thinking on psychedelics and his professional development, and ultimately helped influence the artistic, intellectual, and cultural dimensions of psychedelic culture in postwar America.