Kalinga Prize laureate

1953

United Kingdom
Julian Huxley

In recognition of his work to communicate the results of scientific research to the public

Sir Julian Huxley, scientist, humanist, writer and the first Director-General of UNESCO, was born in June 1887 and died in February 1975. A King’s Scholar at Eton, Julian Huxley went to Oxford University as a Brakenbury Scholar at Balliol College, where he received a first class in natural science (zoology), as well as recognition for his poetry and athletics. After graduation, he worked one year in the marine zoological station at Naples (Italy). From 1912 to 1916 he was a Research Associate and then Assistant Professor at the Rice Institution in Houston, Texas (USA) before returning to Oxford. He moved to London in 1925 to become Professor of Zoology at King’s College, a position he exchanged three years later for an honorary lectureship in order to give himself more time for research, writing and “exploring the methods of communicating the results of scientific research to the public”. His studies of courtship behaviour among grebes and herons pioneered the way for modern concepts of sexual selection and reproductive behaviours in evolution.

Huxley was Professor of Physiology in the Royal Institution from 1926 to 1929, and for 7 years from 1936, he served as Secretary of the Zoological Society in London. In 1938 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was Founder of the Association of Scientific Workers, of the Society of Experimental Biology, of the Association of Systematics, and of the PEP (political and economic planning). On several occasions he was sent to Africa by the British Government to assist various education commissions, and was one of the original members of the British Broadcasting Cooperation’s (BBC) Brains Trust programme. In 1946, Huxley became Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for UNESCO. He became Sir Julian Huxley on being received into the knighthood in 1958.

Sir Julian was a prolific writer, known for his versatility, writing on sociology, religion, philosophy and science. He addressed himself to the general public, as well as to scientists. His first book, The Individual in the Animal Kingdom, appeared in 1911. Among his better known writings are: Soviet Genetics and World Science, Evolution in Action, The Wonderful World of Evolution and Essays of Humanist. He was also the biological editor of the fourteenth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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