COMPANION

Alexander Technique diaries and memoirs

Diaries of Lessons with F. M. Alexander

  • The most comprehensive diary is The Expanding Self by Goddard Binkley, covering lessons 1951–1953.[1]
  • Walter Carrington wrote a diary of his first 17 lessons with Alexander in 1935.[2]
  • The diaries of Frank and Grace Hand relate their lessons with Alexander in 1942.[3]
  • ‘Recording a Miracle – The Diary of Miss G. R.’ (Mrs Buchanan) was first published in Louise Morgan’s Inside Yourself in 1954. It covers some of her lessons with Alexander; it is undated but is probably from 1952 or 1953.[4]
  • Eva Webb’s diary describes lessons at Ashley Place with F. M. Alexander, Irene Stewart, Patrick Macdonald, Max Alexander, Margaret Goldie, Richard (‘Dick’) Walker, and Walter Carrington in 1947.[5]

Diaries of teaching and teachers at Ashley Place

  • Irene Tasker notebook covers the early days of the first teacher training course and a later teachers refresher course.[6]
  • The diary of Sir George Trevelyan relates his visits to Ashley Place 1936-38 and observing Alexander teaching (probably on the training course).[7]
  • Walter Carrington’s diary of teaching at Ashley Place covers most of 1946 (plus a single entry for 1947), with observations on Alexander’s teachings.[8]

Memoirs of lessons with Alexander

  • The author Anthony Ludovici wrote in 1961 about his lessons with Alexander in 1927 (and how he came to have them in the first place).[9]
  • Lulie Westfeldt reports on her lessons with Alexander in general, and more specifically, on her training course with Alexander.[10]
  • Frank Pierce Jones’s introductory book to the Technique contains some memoirs of his lessons with F. M. and A. R. Alexander.[11]
  • Cliff Lewis’s talks in 1983 about his lessons with Alexander and other teachers were transcribed and published as a booklet.[12]
  • Vera Cavling, in an interview, relates what she remembers of her lessons at Ashley Place in 1948.[13]
  • Mrs Philippa Castle relates her first two lessons with F. M. Alexander at Ashley Place in the early 1950s in a short article.[14]
  • Forward and Away by Elisabeth Walker contains memories of training with F. M. Alexander in the late 1930s and 1940s.[15]
  • ‘Alexander and the Alexander Technique – Reminiscences’ by Venkataraman Jagannathan on having 5–6 lessons in 1949 and again in 1951 with F. M. Alexander.[16]
  • ‘Reminiscences of F. M.’ by William S. Mason recounts some lessons with F. M. Alexander in 1946, and again in 1950 and 1951.[17]
  • ‘From a long-standing pupil’ by Eileen Gibson relates that she was born with a crooked spine, a lordosis and a scoliosis; how her doctor told her that he could do nothing for her, but did recommend Alexander. ‘My doctor and I were astonished at the result of my 32 lessons.’[18]
  • ‘From another grateful pupil’ by Elizabeth Bourke-Borrowes recounts how her father took her to have lessons with F. M. Alexander in 1943 after the onset of osteo-arthritis.[19]
  • ‘Derek Smith: notes from lessons at Ashley Place, 1947’ by Derek Smith contains notes of lessons, but the references are to Richard Walker, Walter Carrington, and Irene Stewart, so it is not clear whether any of the notes pertain to lessons with F. M. Alexander.[20]
  • ‘First lessons with F. M. in London 1955’ by Ella and Poul Friis Jepsen is a short description of three weeks of lessons with F. M. Alexander (and other teachers) in September 1955.[21]

Other descriptions

‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ is an article on the Technique in general, but it contains a description of what goes on in a lesson (with F. M. Alexander). Published in 1919 it may be the earliest description of F. M. Alexander’s teaching.[22]

Memoirs of training with Walter Carrington

  • Remembering Walter Carrington edited by Elizabeth Langford contain stories and memories by a number of teachers of Walter Carrington, both as a teacher and as a private person.[23]
  • ‘Alexander Teacher Training Course Notes 1955–59’ by Kirk Rengstorff are contemporary notes of training with Walter Carrington.[24]

Memoirs of teaching the Alexander Technique

  • ‘First of the second generation’ by Joyce Bird who started having lesson in 1950, then trained with the Barlows, and taught acting to opera students at the Royal College of Music.[25]
  • ‘The first step’ by Anne Battye relates almost fifty years of learning and teaching (from 1964 onwards) the Alexander Technique.[26]
  • ‘Five decades: By your pupils you’ll be taught’ by Jean Clark relates her life of teaching since 1969.[27] An earlier version was published as ‘Forty years with the Alexander Technique’.[28]
  • ‘Making the link – A slow-learner’s attempt to make sense of the first twenty-five years’ by John Hunter.[29]
  • ‘Doing only what is necessary and taking the time it takes’ by Vivien Mackie relates stories and experiences of her life and of teaching since 1973.[30]

See also Descriptions of F. M. Alexander, Case histories, and case histories under individual subjects, e.g. music, and obituaries of individual teachers.

References

[1] The Expanding Self by Goddard Binkley (STATBooks, 1993).
[2] Personally Speaking by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2001), pp. 136-41.
[3] ‘The Diaries of Frank and Grace Hand’ in The Philosopher's Stone edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1998), pp. 36-48.
[4] ‘Recording a Miracle – The Diary of Miss G. R.’ in The Philosopher's Stone edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1998), pp. 49-64.
[5] ‘The Diary of Eva Webb’ in The Philosopher's Stone edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1998), pp. 15-35.
[6] Irene Tasker – Her Life and Work with the Alexander Technique by Regina Stratil (Mouritz, 2020), pp. 221–63.
[7] ‘The Diary of Sir George Trevelyan’ in The Philosopher's Stone edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1998), pp. 65-101.
[8] A Time to Remember by Walter H. M. Carrington (The Sheildrake Press, 1996).
[9] ‘How I came to have Lessons with F. M. Alexander’ by Anthony Ludovici in The Philosopher's Stone edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1998), pp. 102-08.
[10] F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work by Lulie Westfeldt (Mouritz, 1998 [1964]).
[11] Freedom to Change [Body Awareness in Action] by Frank Pierce Jones (Mouritz, 1997 [1976]), passim.
[12] ‘Cliff Lewis talks about his life with the Alexander Technique and F. M. Alexander’ edited by Sue York, booklet (F. Matthias Alexander Trust, 2006). An extract of these talks was published in The Alexander Journal no. 16.
[13] ‘Vera Cavling – A portrait of a life with the Alexander Technique’ by Jean M. O. Fischer in Conscious Control vol. 1 no. 2, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2007), pp. 82–89.
[14] ‘Memoirs of a long-term AT enthusiast’ by Jill Payne in STATNews January 2012, vol. 7, issue 7 (STAT, 2012), pp. 29-30.
[15] Forward and Away by Elisabeth Walker (Mouritz, 2014 [2008]).
[16] ‘Alexander and the Alexander Technique – Reminiscences’ by Venkataraman Jagannathan in The Alexander Journal no. 18 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2002), pp. 22–25.
[17] ‘Reminiscences of F. M.’ by William S. Mason in STATNews vol. 4, no. 9 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1994), pp. 10. Reprinted from the NETCAT newsletter no. 7, October 1993.
[18] ‘From a long-standing pupil’ by Eileen Gibson in STATNews vol. 1, January 1988 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, January 1988), pp. 11–12.
[19] ‘From another grateful pupil’ by Elizabeth Bourke-Borrowes in STATNews vol. 1, January 1988 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, January 1988), p. 12.
[20] ‘Derek Smith: notes from lessons at Ashley Place, 1947’ in STATNews vol. 7, no. 7 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, January 2012), pp. 29.
[21] ‘First lessons with F. M. in London 1955’ by Ella and Poul Friis Jepsen, translated by Mary McGovern in STATNews vol. 6, no. 8 edited by Ann James (STAT, September 2002), p. 14.
[22] ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ by James Harvey Robinson in The Philosopher's Stone edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1998), pp. 1-14.
[23] Remembering Walter Carrington edited by Elizabeth Langford (Alexandertechniek Centrum, 2006).
[24] ‘Alexander Teacher Training Course Notes 1955–59’ by Kirk Rengstorff in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), pp. 307–44.
[25] ‘First of the second generation’ by Joyce Bird in The Alexander Journal no. 21 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2006), pp. 6–14.
[26] ‘The first step’ by Anne Battye in The Alexander Journal no. 23 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2010), pp. 2-12.
[27] ‘Five decades: By your pupils you’ll be taught’ by Jean Clark in The Alexander Journal no. 23 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2010), pp. 13-22.
[28] ‘Forty years with the Alexander Technique’ by Jean Clark in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 107-37. Also in AmSAT News no. 77 (AmSAT, 2008) and AmSAT News no. 78 (AmSAT, 2008).
[29] ‘Making the link – A slow-learner’s attempt to make sense of the first twenty-five years’ by John Hunter in The Alexander Journal no. 19 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2003), pp. 2-10.
[30] ‘Doing only what is necessary and taking the time it takes’ by Vivien Mackie in The Alexander Journal no. 23 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2010), pp. 13–22.