In 1869 Frederick Matthias Alexander was born, the eldest of 8 children, in Wynyard, a small town in the North of Tasmania, South of Australia. He had childhood weaknesses. He worked as a clerk to support his family before exploring his dream of reciting Shakespeare. He moved to mainland Australia to pursue his acting career but a voice problem interrupted him. Doctors prescribed rest, and his voice returned, however he would lose it again during performances.
This led him to deduce that if rest healed his voice, it must be something he was doing that caused the problem.
Being from a self-sustaining farm background, he asked the doctor if he could investigate his problem himself. As he studied his movements he developed a technique that brought about total recovery for his voice. Upon healing himself, he continued to develop his technique and help others who were curious about his recovery. Alexander’s early work focused on respiratory re-education, but he found this work affected the whole body, not just his voice.
The principles he discovered or recognized, when applied, helped a range of movement and postural issues from sitting and standing to walking and talking, or doing anything you want to with greater ease and less effort. After all it is about using your whole body as it was naturally designed.
He impressed his acting colleagues and the doctors of Melbourne and Sydney. In 1904 he travelled to England. Some of these doctors wrote letters of testimonial to support his venture. It was in London he established his work and wrote his books. He had a school for children teaching them the work, as he believed that early education equaled prevention and was worth far more than adult correction.
He taught the work to his brother Albert Redden who assisted him in bringing the work to North America. Eventually he was persuaded to train others in the 1930’s so his discoveries and invaluable work could continue.
Late in his life he suffered from stroke. He continued working and recovered his functionality. He worked until he died in 1955.