By MARGALIT FOX
Published: December 19, 2007
Laura Archera Huxley, a writer who was best known for her memoir of
her years with her husband, the novelist Aldous Huxley, died on
Thursday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 96.
The cause was cancer, said Karen Pfeiffer, who was reared by Mrs. Huxley.
Mrs. Huxley's memoir, "This Timeless Moment: A Personal View of
Aldous Huxley" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), was published in 1968, five
years after her husband's death. The book recounted her seven-year
marriage to Huxley, best known for the dystopian novel "Brave New
World," which was published in 1932.
Reviewing "This Timeless Moment" in The New York Times Book Review,
Nona Balakian wrote: "Despite its soap-opera title and occasional
discursiveness, Mrs. Huxley's memoir makes absorbing reading. It
captures, if not the totality of Huxley's genius, certain integral
and warmly human aspects of it."
Over the years, Mrs. Huxley was also a concert violinist; a freelance
filmmaker; a lay psychotherapist; a self-help author; the head of a
children's foundation; a lecturer on the human potential movement;
and, in her words, a restrained investigator of LSD.
Laura Archera was born in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 2, 1911. A musical
prodigy, she made her United States debut in 1937, performing
Mozart's A major violin concerto in Carnegie Hall with the New York
Women's Symphony Orchestra. Miss Archera later studied at the Curtis
Institute of Music in Philadelphia. At the outbreak of World War II
in Europe, she chose to remain in the United States, eventually
settling in Los Angeles.
After a close friend, Virginia Pfeiffer, became seriously ill, Miss
Archera gave up her musical career to study psychology and
alternative medicine. She later donated her Guarnerius violin to
Yehudi Menuhin, Karen Pfeiffer said.
Miss Archera befriended Mr. Huxley and his wife, Maria, in the late
1940s, while working as a freelance associate producer of documentary
films. In 1956, the year after Maria Huxley's death, Miss Archera and
Mr. Huxley were married at a drive-in wedding chapel in Yuma, Ariz.
In 1963, as Mr. Huxley was dying of cancer, Mrs. Huxley ministered to
him by injecting him with LSD and by reading aloud to him from the
manuscript of "The Psychedelic Experience," by Timothy Leary and others.
In the mid-1970s, after her friend Virginia Pfeiffer's death, Mrs.
Huxley, then in her 60s, took in and raised her young granddaughter,
Karen. Besides Karen Pfeiffer, of Los Angeles, Mrs. Huxley is
survived by Karen's daughter, Kaya.
In the late '70s, Mrs. Huxley started Children: Our Ultimate
Investment, a foundation concerned with the well-being of young
people. Her other books include several self-help volumes, the best
known of which is "You Are Not the Target" (Farrar, Straus, 1963),
which has a foreword by her husband.
The book offers a set of what Mrs. Huxley called recipes for getting
through life's many difficulties. These include punching a
tetherball, imagining one's own funeral and dancing in the nude.