F M Alexander's Biography
F M Alexander is the originator of the Alexander Technique, a means of eradicating harmful postural habits and restoring healthy natural poise and co-ordination.
Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania on 20 January 1869, the son of John Alexander, a blacksmith, and Betsy, a nurse and midwife.
He had nine brothers and sisters but two of his siblings died very young.
His father was reputedly a violent alcoholic, whom his mother would eventually leave.
When FM Alexander was still a teenager he worked as a clerk in the office of a Tin Mining Company in Mount Bischoff.
After three years he had saved enough money to go to Melbourne, where he became a professional 'reciter of dramatic and humorous pieces' and was performing on stage.
However, F M Alexander developed serious vocal trouble and as he found no solution from doctors, he began to observe himself in front of mirrors, and as Nikolaas Tinbergen stated in his Nobel Prize lecture in 1973:
"... he noticed that his voice was at its worst when he adopted the stances which to him felt appropriate and 'right' for what he was reciting. Without any outside help he worked out, during a series of agonising years, how to improve what is now called the 'use' of his body musculature in all his postures and movements. And, the remarkable outcome was that he regained control of his voice."
This would be the genesis of what became known as the Alexander Technique, which is designed to help people rid themselves of bad postural habits and gain more conscious control of themselves in their everyday life.
F M Alexander began to use his approach, which would become known as the Alexander Technique in Melbourne and Sydney, on a number of clients including several actors.
In 1904 he moved to London and got a lot of referrals through the ear throat nose specialist Dr Scanes Spicer who himself treated many actors and singers.
Scanes Spicer and F M Alexander reputedly fell out later on.
In 1910, F M Alexander wrote his first book, Man's Supreme Inheritance. Other books followed including The Use of the Self, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual and The Universal Constant in Living.
In 1920, F M Alexander married a widow Edith Young, née Page. By all accounts it was not a happy marriage and, in fact, F M Alexander had a son with his housekeeper.
FM Alexander taught the Alexander Technique in both London and the USA.
In 1931, F M Alexander opened a teacher training course, to teach the Alexander Technique to others such as Marjorie Barstow, so that they could pass it on.
In the late 1940s, F M Alexander had a stroke, which paralysed his left side but he regained control of this remarkably quickly.
He died in London on 10 October 1955.
The Alexander Technique has come to be used worldwide with many teachers around the globe.
YouTube has a video of FM Alexander employing the Alexander Technique.
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