Ellen A. M. Goldie (1905-1997), British teacher of the Technique and assistant to F. M. Alexander
Margaret Goldie qualified as a teacher of the Technique in 1934 and worked for Alexander until his death in 1955.
Goldie first started having lessons in 1927 due to poor health (‘insomnia, spinal curvature, a bad digestion, a permanent feeling of nerviness [sic] and exhaustion, and great susceptibility to any form of epidemic infection’). She was at that time training in the Froebel Teachers’ Training College, and was taken to see F. M. Alexander by the Principal of the College, Miss Esther Lawrence who was a pupil of Alexander. After Goldie finished the training she worked as a teacher in an orthodox school before she went to Alexander in order to assist Miss Irene Tasker with the Little School. She assisted on the Little School while training to be a teacher on Alexander’s first training course and continued afterwards, taking over the running of the Little School in 1934 when Irene Tasker moved to South Africa.
When Alexander died she continued the teachers’ training course together with Walter Carrington, John Skinner and Irene Stewart.
Although Alexander won the South African Libel Case in 1948 the costs involved left him short of money, and Goldie lent him all her takings from her private lessons unto his death. The loan was only settled as part of a general settlement with Alexander’s Estate around 1956-57.
Goldie was co-executor and trustee of Alexander’s will together with the younger brother of Alexander, Beaumont Alexander. However, she relinquished the executorship and trusteeship in 1957 after a long period of harassment from Beaumont Alexander.
When the training course moved to Holland Park in 1960, Margaret Goldie went to teach privately full-time, for many years in Soho Square, London, and in the last years of her life at the Bloomsbury Centre, London. She also gave a few lessons in her home in Richmond.
Goldie was intensely private and refused having her picture taken, to be interviewed, or recorded. When Jean Fischer approached her for the purpose of writing a short biography of her for Goddard Binkley’s The Expanding Self, she not only refused emphatically over the telephone, but also sent a letter expressly forbidding any biographical information on her to appear in the book. Most photographs of her are from the 1930s and 1940s.
Goldie wrote two letters in the monthly journal Health for All, the first in response to an article about the Alexander Technique in 1957, and the second in response to a letter by Eric de Peyer about children’s education in 1958.
Fiona Robb’s Not To Do is a diary of lessons with Margaret Goldie and the most comprehensive description in existence of her teaching. A shorter description of lessons is Penelope Easten’s ‘Lessons with Miss Goldie’. Penelope Easten also presented a workshop on Goldie’s teaching: ‘What did Miss Goldie understand?’. Goldie is mentioned in Goddard Binkley’s The Expanding Self, and in an interview with Vera Cavling of her time in London in 1948. Rivka Cohen has written an account of a single lesson with Margaret Goldie. A report of a talk by Bryan Niblett contains his memories of having lessons with Margaret Goldie.
Some further reports of her teaching exists in various letters and reports of workshops in STATNews and AUSTATNews.
Margaret Goldie appears in the 1949-50 film footage of F. M. Alexander teaching; the brief footage shows Alexander taking Goldie in and out of a chair.
Ellen Avery Margaret Goldie *14 December 1905 – †25 January 1997.
See also Beaumont Alexander vs. Margaret Goldie.