Autobiography and Selected Essays

Author: Thomas Henry Huxley


The purpose of the following selections is to present to students of English a few of Huxley’s representative essays. Some of these selections are complete; others are extracts. In the latter case, however, they are not extracts in the sense of being incomplete wholes, for each selection given will be found to have, in Aristotle’s phrase, "a beginning, a middle, and an end." That they are complete in themselves, although only parts of whole essays, is due to the fact that Huxley, in order to make succeeding material clear, often prepares the way with a long and careful definition. Such is the nature of the extract A Liberal Education, in reality a definition to make distinct and forcible his ideas on the shortcomings of English schools. Such a definition, also, is The Method of Scientific Investigation.

The footnotes are those of the author. Other notes on the text have been included for the benefit of schools inadequately equipped with reference books. It is hoped, however, that the notes may be found not to be so numerous as to prevent the training of the student in a self-reliant and scholarly use of dictionaries and reference books; it is hoped, also, that they may serve to stimulate him to trace out for himself more completely any subject connected with the text in which he may feel a peculiar interest. It should be recognized that notes are of value only as they develop power to read intelligently. If unintelligently relied upon, they may even foster indifference and lazy mental habits.

I wish to express my obligation to Miss Flora Bridges, whose careful reading of the manuscript has been most helpful, and to Professor Clara F. Stevens, the head of the English Department at Mount Holyoke College, whose very practical aid made this volume possible.

A. L. F. S.


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Chicago: Thomas Henry Huxley, "Preface," Autobiography and Selected Essays, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Evans, Sebastian in Autobiography and Selected Essays Original Sources, accessed July 12, 2020,

MLA: Huxley, Thomas Henry. "Preface." Autobiography and Selected Essays, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Evans, Sebastian, in Autobiography and Selected Essays, Original Sources. 12 Jul. 2020.

Harvard: Huxley, TH, 'Preface' in Autobiography and Selected Essays, ed. and trans. . cited in , Autobiography and Selected Essays. Original Sources, retrieved 12 July 2020, from