COMPANION

Billy Hughes

William (‘Billy’) Morris Hughes (1862–1952), Australian politician, Prime Minister of Australia (1915–1923),[1] and pupil of Alexander.

Connection with Alexander

In 1909 Alexander Leeper presented his ‘The Report on Physical Culture in the United Kingdom and the Continent of Europe’ to the Victorian Teachers and Schools Registration Board. The report recommends Alexander’s method:

That what is known as the Alexander method of the re-education of the respiratory organs is deserving of the Board’s special attention.[2]

That the recommendation was not acted upon was apparently partly due to Billy Hughes; he had lessons with F. M. Alexander later and admitted to Alexander that he did not follow Leeper’s recommendation.[3]

Alexander wrote scathingly of Billy Hughes’s decision in an unpublished draft of a letter of 1918, for a newspaper, on the subject of the British Education Act of 1918.

As an Australian I take a very serious view of the proposed educational change in England because a few years before the War our Government decided to introduce a system of physical training into our Schools and the compulsory Army training. Mr Hughes was then Prime Minister and I am sorry to say that he was responsible for establishing there one of the most harmful and absurd systems of that time and this against the opinion of a well known scientific man who had made a special report to our Government on a subject to which he had devoted much study and of which Mr Hughes displayed conspicous ignorance. Mr Hughes can never make reparation for that fatal blunder in his career for the effect of the evils imposed upon Australian children will be felt for generations to come.[4]

Writings

  • ‘Man’s future as an individual’ by Walter Carrington recounts the Billy Hughes episode.[5]
  • ‘Jobs for the boys’ by Rosemary Chance quotes from Walter Carrington’s 1969 F. M. Alexander Memorial Lecture on the Billy Hughes episode.[6]

William Morris Hughes *25 September 1862 – †28 October 1952.

See also Alexander Leeper.

References

[1] ‘Hughes, William Morris (Billy) (1862–1952)’ by L. F. Fitzhardinge in The Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 9, 1983, online: https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hughes-william-morris-billy-6761. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
[2] A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), p. 208.
[3] ‘Man’s future as an individual’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 42.
[4] ‘Draft of a Letter on Educational Reform’ by F. M. Alexander, 4 September 1918. Typed manuscript in the Ethel Webb-John Skinner papers (now Jean Fischer private collection).
[5] ‘Man’s future as an individual’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), pp. 41–42.
[6] ‘Jobs for the boys’ by Rosemary Chance in Direction vol. 1, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1990), p. 23.