In April 1923, spotting the impossibly stylish Aldous and Maria Huxley on the deck of a cross-channel ferry to Dieppe, Virginia Woolf darted behind the funnel, ashamed of her bluestocking dowdiness. ‘I can’t think it right to look precisely like an illustration to Vogue,’ she wrote to Vanessa Bell, ‘and I dare say they thought the same t’other way round about us.’ Posterity, however, has had the last laugh, for the Woolf industry has devoted volume after volume to her novels, essays, diaries, letters and much else, while Huxley remains scandalously neglected by literary scholarship. No comprehensive critical editions of the novels, essays, or letters exist, and only two full biographies (with thirty years between them) and a handful of studies make up the brief critical reading list for Huxley.
James Sexton’s selected letters thus meet a need, but given that it is nearly forty years since Grover Smith’s Letters of Aldous Huxley was published one might have expected a little more in the way of editing or critical apparatus. The ordinary reader will often want some indication of what