COMPANION

Edith Page Alexander

Edith Alexander, née Page (1865–1938), actress and wife of F. M. Alexander.

Edith Page was an actress and singer, with the stage name of Tasca–Page. She was born in Tasmania, at Lemon Springs, and was the daughter of John James, who had a large estate.[1] She married Robert Young in 1883. Robert Young, an amateur entertainer who turned professional in 1899, was a friend of Alexander, and Edith, Robert and Alexander performed together several times in Australia in the late 1890s. Edith’s sister, Maud Page, was also a performer who sometimes joined them.

Edith learned Alexander’s technique in the 1890s in Australia and taught for some time, but did not enjoy it. She wanted to perform at London’s West End theatres, and followed Alexander to London, arriving in London in September 1904 (Alexander arrived April 1904).[2] However, she was unable to establish a career. Robert Young died in 1910, and Edith married Alexander 10 August 1914.[3]

Sometime around 1921–23 Alexander and Edith adopted Peggy (Edith’s niece). Around 1924–25 they bought a house outside of London, Penhill House, where Edith would now live instead of Ashley Place. She disliked being away from London, however, and separated from Alexander in 1929 when she moved to Little Venice, overlooking the Regents Park canal, just off Edgeware Road, in London.[4] (Alexander continued to pay for all her expenses.) She died in September 1938.[5]

Marriage with F. M. Alexander

Existing letters by Alexander to Edith from 1917 and 1918 are warm and affectionate. Lulie Westfeldt writes that ‘everyone . . . . was united in saying that F.M. always behaved towards his wife in the most exemplary way. He was kind, considerate, and when there were things he admired about her, such as her colour sense, he never failed to express admiration.’[6] Jackie Evans writes that Alexander and Edith had separate bedrooms at Penhill. However, by all accounts Edith was not interested in Alexander’s technique, and she was disappointed by her failure to have a career on the London stage.[7]

Descriptions

Very little is known about Edith. Among the few descriptions by people who met her are:

Jackie Evans (see references below).

Marjory Barlow, who said ‘When we were young he [Alexander] used to come over almost every Sunday with that awful wife of his.’[8] And ‘Edith was such a peculiar person – I couldn’t stand her when I was a little child. She was coarse, insensitive. I also think she had a drink problem.[9]

Lulie Westfeldt did not meet Edith, but relied on reports of some of Alexander’s pupils, who described her as ‘theatrical in appearance, peculiar and unfriendly. While she did not take much part in the conversation, she always managed to convey the fact that she was wholly antagonistic to F.M.’s work.’[10]

Photographs

There are no known pictures of Edith. Mouritz published in 1997 a new edition of Lulie Westfeldt’s book with a picture supposedly of Edith.[11] However, Jackie Evans whose mother, Joan Evans, would have known Edith, stated that that picture is not of Edith. Jackie Evans describes her as an ‘outstandingly beautiful woman’.[12]

Edith Mary Parsons Page (Young 1883, Alexander 1914) *1865–†1938.

References

[1] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), p. 106.
[2] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), pp. 137–38.
[3] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), p. 157.
[4] An Examined Life by Marjory Barlow, Trevor Allen Davies (Mornum Time Press, 2002), p. 83.
[5] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), p. 186.
[6] F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work by Lulie Westfeldt (Mouritz, 1998 [1964]), p. 47.
[7] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), p. 186.
[8] An Examined Life by Marjory Barlow, Trevor Allen Davies (Mornum Time Press, 2002), p. 72.
[9] An Examined Life by Marjory Barlow, Trevor Allen Davies (Mornum Time Press, 2002), p. 74.
[10] F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work by Lulie Westfeldt (Mouritz, 1998 [1964]), p. 47.
[11] F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work by Lulie Westfeldt (Mouritz, 1998 [1964]), p. 47.
[12] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), p. 106.
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