F.M. Alexander (1869 - 1955) was a successful actor and reciter in his twenties when he encountered voice trouble that no doctors could cure. Through a long journey of experimentation and diligent research he discovered fundamental principles and truths about the way that our thinking affects our muscles, bodies and brains.
Having established a highly successful practice in Australia, Alexander set sail for London in 1904 bearing letters of recommendation and introduction from several eminent Australian doctors. Alexander rapidly established a high reputation in London for helping 'hopeless cases'. Although he was a contentious character and divided opinions in his day, Alexander also won the support and gratitude of an impressive list of pupils that included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Stafford Cripps, Aldous Huxley and George Bernard Shaw, as well as many of the most successful stage performers of the era. The president of the BMA, Dr. Peter Macdonald, was a keen advocate of Alexander's work and his son Patrick received lessons from Alexander from the age of 12, going on to become one of the first group of teachers trained by Alexander from 1933.
A movement of doctors within the British Medical Association tried, and almost succeeded, in having principles of the Alexander Technique integrated into doctors' compulsory training in 1936.
Alexander was also keen to work with children, both to help those with problems and to pre-empt future troubles for his pupils. He established a school in Holland Park which re-located to Massachusets during World War II, and which took on many children regarded as inadequate by mainstream schools of the day.
Several of the teachers trained by Alexander on his Teacher Training Course went on to found their own Teacher Training Schools from which today's training courses have stemmed.
Decades later Alexander's principles were proved and substantiated by medical scientists and anthropologists.
Neuro-physiologists are continuing to make discoveries that show why the Alexander Technique works so well.
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