LIBRARY - F. M. Alexander

About F. Matthias Alexander

F. Matthias Alexander (1869–1955) ~ A brief biography

F. Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania in 1869. He started to evolve his now world-famous technique in the early 1890s. It was initially developed to solve the frequent loss of voice he suffered working as a reciter. He then became a successful reciter and teacher of elocution, and he toured Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. He first taught the Technique as applied to elocution, but he gradually discovered how applicable it is to all activities of living and how fundamental a contribution to health and well-being it makes. He settled first in Melbourne, and later in Sydney where he advertised his Operatic and Dramatic Conservatory in 1902.

Encouraged by doctors, Alexander moved to London in 1904. He had great success in introducing his technique to the acting community and in medical circles and wrote several pamphlets on the health benefits of the Technique as well as its application to breathing and voice production (reproduced in his Articles and Lectures). It was, however, with Man's Supreme Inheritance (1910), that he first presented his evolutionary hypothesis developed from his practical experience: that we are evolving from the instinctive to the conscious in the use of ourselves. Our innate ability consciously to adapt by the means of the primary control is our "supreme inheritance."

During the period 1914–24 he also taught regularly in New York and Boston. In New York John Dewey became his pupil and supporter and wrote forewords not only to the next edition of Man's Supreme Inheritance (1918), but also to Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (1923) and The Use of the Self (1932). In these books he developed and expanded his theme, including examples and case stories as illustrations.

During the 1920s and 1930s Alexander's pupils included George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Leonard Wolf, Sir Stafford Cripps, The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Earl of Lytton and doctors, scientists and performers.

In 1924 he encouraged and oversaw the establishment of a small school where children were taught with attention to the "means-whereby" in contrast to the "end-gaining" mentality which neglects the "how" in every activity.

In 1931 Alexander started a 3-year course, training teachers in his technique, which ensured its survival and continual expansion.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 Alexander moved the school to the USA. Here he finished his last book, The Universal Constant in Living (1942), reminding us all that we are constantly using ourselves, that our use continuously affects our functioning, and that we can co-ordinate and control that use to great advantage.

After the war, back in London, in 1947, Alexander suffered two strokes which paralysed his left side. He used his technique to fully recover from his stroke and continued to teach to within a few days of his death in 1955.

The Alexander Technique is now taught world-wide. It is particularly well-established in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, France, USA, Canada, Australia, and Israel. It is part of the curriculum in music conservatories in England (and several drama colleges), USA and several other countries. There are now several hundred books and journals on the Technique.

For more information please contact STAT – the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique which was established in 1958 in London.

Jean M. O. Fischer, © 2001-2021.



Born 20 January at Wynyard, Tasmania.


Working at Mt. Bischoff Tin Mining Co. in Waratah, Tasmania.


Clerical work and amateur recitals in Melbourne.


Problems with voice and discoveries providing the origin of the Technique.


Recital tours in Tasmania and New Zealand.


Teaching elocution and breathing based on his discoveries and giving recitals in Melbourne.


Teaching and giving recitals in Sydney.


Sails to London in April. Lives in Army and Navy Mansions, Victoria St.


Albert Redden (A. R.), Alexander's brother, joins F. M. in London.


Man's Supreme Inheritance, London and New York.


Moves to 16 Ashley Place which remains his home for the rest of his life.


Ethel Webb meets Alexander and later becomes a teacher of the Technique.


Irene Tasker meets Alexander and later becomes a teacher of the Technique.


Marries Edith Mary Parsons Young, 10 August.


Teaches in New York and Boston for 6 months each year.


Meets John Dewey and forms a life-long friendship.


Man's Supreme Inheritance, revised and enlarged edition, London and New York.


Edith Alexander and F. M. Alexander adopt Peggy.


Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, New York, October. Published in England in 1924.


Alexander buys the country estate Penhill House, Bexley, Kent.


Irene Tasker starts the Little School for children at Ashley Place.


The first training course for teachers starts end of February.


The Use of the Self, London and New York.


Margaret Goldie takes over the Little School for children and it is moved to Penhill.


A. R. Alexander moves to Boston.


Irene Tasker moves to South Africa and returns in January 1944


Mrs Edith Alexander dies.


The little school is evacuated to the US, accompanied by Alexander and other teachers. The school stays at the Whitney Homestead, Mass., 1941–42.


The Universal Constant in Living, New York, September. Published in England in 1942.


Alexander returns to London.


A. R. Alexander dies. He had suffered from a stroke in 1944.


Alexander suffers two strokes, but by March 1948 he is teaching again.


The South African Libel Case. Alexander wins damages for libel in S.A.


Dies 10 October after a chill and a brief illness.