Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931 while he was living in Italy (a British writer, he moved to Amber Rock, California in 1937). By this time, Huxley had already established himself as a writer and social satirist. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines, had published a collection of his poetry (The Burning Wheel, 1916) and four successful satirical novels: Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925) and Point Counter Point (1928). Brave New World was Huxley's fifth novel and first dystopian work.
Brave New World was inspired by H. G. Wells' utopian novel Men Like Gods. Wells' optimistic vision of the future gave Huxley the idea to begin writing a parody of the novel, which became Brave New World. Contrary to the most popular optimist utopian novels of the time, Huxley sought to provide a frightening vision of the future. Huxley referred to Brave New World as a "negative utopia" (see dystopia), somewhat influenced by Wells' ...view middle of the document...
The introduction to the most recent print[vague] of Brave New World states that Huxley was inspired to write the classic novel by this Billingham visit.
Although the novel is set in the future, it contains contemporary issues of the early 20th century. The Industrial Revolution had transformed the world. Mass production had made cars, telephones, and radios relatively cheap and widely available throughout the developed world. The political, cultural, economic and sociological upheavals of the then-recent Russian Revolution of 1917 and the First World War (1914–1918) were resonating throughout the world as a whole and the individual lives of most people. Accordingly, many of the novel's characters are named after widely-recognized influential people of the time, for example, Polly Trotsky (Leon Trotsky), Benito Hoover (Benito Mussolini; Herbert Hoover), Lenina Crowne (Vladimir Lenin; John Crowne), Fanny Crowne (Fanny Brawne; John Crowne), Mustapha Mond (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk; Alfred Mond), Helmholtz Watson (Hermann von Helmholtz; John B. Watson), and Bernard Marx (George Bernard Shaw; Karl Marx).
Huxley was able to use the setting and characters from his science fiction novel to express widely held opinions, particularly the fear of losing individual identity in the fast-paced world of the future. An early trip to the United States gave Brave New World much of its character. Not only was Huxley outraged by the culture of youth, commercial cheeriness, sexual promiscuity and the inward-looking nature of many Americans; he had also found a book by Henry Ford on the boat to America. There was a fear of Americanization in Europe, so to see America firsthand, as well as read the ideas and plans of one of its foremost citizens, spurred Huxley to write Brave New World with America in mind. The "feelies" are his response to the "talkie" motion pictures, and the sex-hormone chewing gum is parody of the ubiquitous chewing gum, which was something of a symbol of America at that time. In an article in the 4 May 1935 issue of the Illustrated London News, G. K. Chesterton explained that Huxley was revolting against the "Age of Utopias" — a time, mostly before the First World War, inspired by what H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were writing about socialism and a World State.