COMPANION

Robert D. Best

Robert Dudley Best (1892-1984), British businessman and pupil of F. M. Alexander.

Life

Best inherited his family brass founder business, Best & Lloyd, known for their lamps and chandeliers (they invented the ‘Surprise’ pendant in 1893 which was the forerunner of today’s angle-poise lamp). Best wrote a biography of his father, R. H. Best (1843-1925), who was one of the founders of the business.[1]

Connection with Alexander

Suffering from neck spasms R. D. Best started having lessons in 1929 and became a keen supporter of the Technique. He encouraged teachers to teach in Birmingham and a number of teachers, Patrick Macdonald, Erika Whittaker, Irene Stewart and Anthony Spawforth, taught at his home in Edgebaston. Best’s son, John (b. 1929), went to Alexander’s Little School at Penhill, and was also at the Little School at Stow, Mass., US.[2]

Best is mentioned twice in passing in Walter Carrington’s 1946 diary, here quoted by Dr Wilfred (Bill) Barlow:

Bill asked one of Robert Best’s favourite questions: ‘Is “use” synonymous with “reaction”?’ FM said it was.[3]

Writings

Robert Best gave a lecture to STAT in 1964, ‘Technique in industry’.[4]

In the 1940s Robert Best worked on an unfinished essay, ‘Conscious Constructive Criticism,’ in which he criticizes dogmatic approaches to the teaching of the Technique.

The Walter Carrington archives contain some correspondence between Robert Best and teachers and pupils of the Technique.

Birmingham City Archives has seven boxes with Robert D. Best papers (some of which contain papers on the Alexander Technique).[5]

References

[1] Brass Chandelier by R. D. Best (George Allen & Unwin, 1940).
[2] John Best, personal correspondence.
[3] A Time to Remember by Walter H. M. Carrington (The Sheildrake Press, 1996), p. 3.
[4] ‘Technique in Industry’ by Robert D. Best in The Alexander Journal no. 5, Autumn 1966.
[5] Birmingham City Archives, MS 2151. Acc 1998/39.