F. Matthias Alexander
Born in Tasmania in 1869, Alexander was a successful actor and reciter whose career was cut short by loss of voice during performances.
With no help forthcoming from the medical profession, Alexander undertook an intensive examination of himself in action, convinced that the source of his voice problem lay in the way he thought about and used his body. A long period of research led him to discover certain principles affecting mind/body co-ordination applicable to every kind of mental and physical activity.
With this knowledge he went on to cure his own voice problem and found that he could also help others. It was at this point that teaching his method became the main focus of his life.
Alexander arrived in England in 1904 and built up a practice in London and the USA. He had many influential supporters among whom were Sir Henry Irving, George Bernard Shaw, John Dewey, Aldous Huxley and Sir Stafford Cripps.
In 1931 he began training others to teach the Technique and continued both his private practice and training school until his death at the age of 86.
Today the importance of Alexander’s discoveries is confirmed by the existence of a rapidly growing body of teachers of his method. There are over 1,000 Alexander teachers practising in the UK, most of them members of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) founded in 1958 to maintain professional standards. There are societies affiliated to STAT in fourteen countries outside the UK
Alexander wrote four books on his method and they all remain in print today.
- Man’s Supreme Inheritance (1910, revised edition 1918)
- Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (1923)
- The Use of the Self (1932)
- The Universal Constant in Living (1941)
Alexander’s pupils and supporters
Many of Alexander’s pupils publicly supported him and his Technique. Among well-known public figures were Sir Stafford Cripps (Chancellor the Exchequer), William Temple (the Archbishop of Canterbury), Lord Lytton (Viceroy of India), Esther Lawrence, and Joseph Rowntree.
Famous authors included Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Leonard Wolf and John Dewey.
Well-known performers included Sarah Brooke, H. B. Irving, Viola Tree, Lily Brayton, Nora Kerin, Constance Collier, Oscar Asche and Matheson Lang.
Among the many doctors and scientists who wrote in support of Alexander’s work were Dr Peter Macdonald, Dr Bruce-Bruce Porter, Professor Raymond Dart, and Professor George E. Coghill.