Who was Alexander?

Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in 1869 in Tasmania. He was the first of 10 children. Perhaps being the eldest son added to the natural drive he had to succeed.

His working life began in clerical jobs in which he did well and made money. His hobbies were horse racing and amateur dramatics. Gradually the latter took over and he began perfoming as an actor (specifically, a dramatic reciter). It was this that led him to persistant vocal problems.

Doctors were unable to come up with a lasting solution to the problem, and so he applied himself with characteristic determination to discover the solution himself. By arranging a series of mirrors, he was able to observe his habits of movement from different angles, and he noticed that as soon as he started to recite, he pulled back his head and neck, which distorts the voice. Further observation of his habits, and the power of his habits continued, and the Alexander Technique, over more than a decade, was developed.

He took the Technique first to Melbourne, then Sydney, then to London in 1904, to New York in 1914, and back to London. He was finally persuaded to teach his work to others, and the first teacher training course was established in London in 1931.

He died in London in 1955, two weeks short of his 87th birthday.