Lucy Mary Silcox (1862–1947), teacher and headmistress, and pupil of F. M. Alexander
Silcox took an M.A. in London and the Classical Tripos at Newnham College, Cambridge. She was Headmistress of East Liverpool High School in 1901 and of Dulwich High School from 1901 to 1908. In 1909 she became Headmistress of St. Felix School, Southwold, a girls’ boarding school founded in 1897. She oversaw the construction of several new buildings and the purchase of many acres of land for playing fields and buildings. Her time at St. Felix has been described as a golden age for the school. Silcox was a vegetarian and a strong supporter of women’s suffrage. She retired to Oxford in 1926. As well as referring to Alexander in her lecture to the Ling Association (see below), Silcox co-signed (with Esther Lawrence and A. G. Pite) a letter in 1930 supporting Alexander’s training course which was published in UoS. Silcox arranged for Ethel Webb to teach at St. Felix School, which she did a few times. It was in this connection that Alexander advised Ethel Webb: ‘Don’t do anything you have seen me do.’
Meeting with Lulie Westfeldt
Lulie Westfeldt, in her book, and before she started lessons with Alexander, describes her meeting with Silcox:
In a moment Miss Silcox entered the room. She was to me impressive. Her face, because of her eyes and the personality they showed forth, was striking, almost beautiful. Her carriage was erect and graceful, even though she walked with a slight limp.
She told me that she had had a long series of lessons with Alexander. Her trouble, like mine, had started in some form of paralysis. (A fellow teacher and close friend of Miss Silcox’s whom I met later believed she had had infantile paralysis, although this was not fully established.)
As she told her story I could see why she had stressed the note of privacy. She would not care to speak to a casual outsider about so deep and personal an experience, though she would be willing to speak to another handicapped person seeking help.
‘It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning and dress myself,’ she said. Hers was no slight handicap, I thought, and she had the feeling of knowing she was getting worse, too.
Miss Silcox continued. ‘At the end of a long period of work with Alexander – I went to him for about a year that first time – I was able to go to Switzerland with a friend on my holidays and do some mountain climbing.’
It took me some time to take this in. Then there seemed only one comment to make. ‘Your life was really re-made, Miss Silcox, wasn’t it?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ she said. She told me that her experience with doctors had been similar to mine, that Alexander’s system was unique. In her opinion he had added to human knowledge.
Lulie Westfeldt writes that this made such an impression on her that it confirmed her decision to have lessons with Alexander.
Silcox’s lecture to the Ling Association, published in 1927, was titled ‘Swedish Gymnastic Teaching - Some Comments by an Onlooker after long Observation.’ She describes Alexander’s technique, quoting Magnus’s discovery that
posture is an active process, that the position of the head determines the disposition of the rest of the body as well as the tone of the musculature throughout the whole body.
She ends the lecture by recommending her audience to read CCC. An extract from the lecture was quoted in UCL, and the lecture was published in full in A Means To An End.