COMPANION

Erika Whittaker

Erika Whittaker, née Schumann (1911-2004), German-born British teacher of the Technique.

Life

Erika was the daughter of Elsie Webb (of the Mappin & Webb silversmith company) and Hans Schumann. Whittaker started having lessons at the age of eight from her aunt, Ethel Webb, and started having lessons with F. M. Alexander in 1929. Between 1929 and 1931 she occasionally assisted Irene Tasker with the Little School. She trained with Alexander 1931–34 and taught the Technique briefly in London, at Ashley Place, and Birmingham. After her marriage to Duncan Whittaker, a consultant psychiatrist, in 1940, she lived near Croydon and only occasionally visited Ashley Place. She had one daughter, Anne, in 1943. Erika suffered from TB at the end of the war but rejected medical treatment, and the TB subsided by itself. In 1963 she went to live in Melbourne. She worked at an Anglian Mission at a Highland Station in Papua New Guinea for three years and later studied Arabic and Comparative Religion of the Ancient Middle East at Melbourne University. She lived in the UK 1976–80 but returned to Australia. She began teaching the Technique again in 1984. She moved to Edinburgh in 1997.[1] [2] [3]

Writings

‘The Alexander method’ by Erika Schumann is a 1937 letter in Time & Tide which is setting out to correct a description of the Alexander Technique in the previous issue of Time & Tide.[4]

Whittaker gave the F. M. Memorial Lecture in 1985, ‘F. M. Remembered’, published as a booklet by STAT. A different version was published as ‘England – The first training course’ in The Alexander Review.[5] A reworked and extended version of these was published in The Alexander Journal as ‘Alexander’s Way’.[6]

Whittaker gave the Key Note Address at the 1988 2nd International Congress in Brighton.[7]

Notes from an interview by Bruce Fertman were published in the 1999 Freiburg Congress Papers.[8]

A transcript of Whittaker’s presentation at the 1996 5th International Congress in Israel is in The Congress Papers.[9]

Videos

There are two video interviews with Erika Whittaker; one generally on her history with the Technique, and one specifically on The Little School.[10] Erika Whittaker’s workshop given at the 1998 STAT Conference is on video,[11] and she is also featured in the compilation video of the conference.[12] A YouTube video appears to be from the 1995 Israel International Congress.[13]

Obituary

  • ‘Erika Whittaker Obituary’ by John Hunter.[14]
  • ‘Erika Whittaker’ by John Hunter.[15]
  • ‘Erika Whittaker Remembered’ by Elisabeth Walker.[16]
  • ‘Erika Whittaker Obituary’ by Jackie Evans.[17]

Erika Whittaker *23 August 1911 – †19 May 2004.

References

[1] ‘Erika Whittaker Obituary’ by John Hunter in STATNews vol. 6, issue 14, October 2004, pp. 10-12.
[2] ‘Erika Whittaker Remembered’ by Elisabeth Walker in STATNews vol. 6, issue 14, October 2004, p. 12.
[3] ‘Erika Whittaker Obituary’ by Jackie Evans in Direction vol. 3, no. 4, 2004, insert pp. 1, 4.
[4] ‘The Alexander method’ by Erika Schumann, Letter in Time & Tide, 4 December 1937. Also in A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), pp. 309–10.
[5] ‘England – The first training course’ by Erika Whittaker, in The Alexander Review, vol. 2 no. 3, September 1987, pp. 21-29.
[6] ‘Alexander’s Way’ by Erika Whittaker, in The Alexander Journal no. 13, Autumn 1993, pp. 3-12.
[7] Key Note Address by Erika Whittaker The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 9–11. Also in Direction vol. 1, no. 5 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1989), pp. 182–83.
[8] ‘Conversations with Erika Whittaker’ interviewed by Bruce Fertman in The Congress Papers 1999, An Ongoing Discovery edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2001), pp. 161–69.
[9] Back to Basics by Shmuel Nelken (Author, 1999), pp. 51-70.
[10] Whittaker, Erika + Sue Merry + Angelo Cinque, The Little School Remembered [DVD], 2001.
[11] Whittaker, Erika + Reed, David (editor), Erika Whittaker Manchester 1998 [DVD], 2005.
[12] Reed, David (editor), STAT Conference 1998 [DVD], 1998.
[13] ‘Erika Whittaker on her early days with F.M. Alexander’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ_j0ksWRN0. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
[14] ‘Erika Whittaker Obituary’ by John Hunter in STATNews vol. 6, issue 14, October 2004, pp. 10-12.
[15] ‘Erika Whittaker’ by John Hunter in AmSAT News issue no. 65 (Fall 2004), p. 12.
[16] ‘Erika Whittaker Remembered’ by Elisabeth Walker in STATNews vol. 6, issue 14, October 2004, p. 12.
[17] ‘Erika Whittaker Obituary’ by Jackie Evans in Direction vol. 3, no. 4, 2004, insert pp. 1, 4.