COMPANION

Sir Stafford Cripps

Sir Richard Stafford Cripps (1889–1952), British politician, pupil and supporter of F. M. Alexander.

A lawyer, Cripps entered Parliament in 1931 as a left-wing Labour MP, antiwar and pro-Soviet. He served as Ambassador to Moscow (1940–42) and later served in Winston Churchill’s wartime cabinet. He helped to coax Stalin into joining the Allied war effort and tried unsuccessfully to give independence to a united India. As Chancellor of the Exchequer (1947–50), he presided over the post-war austerity program.

Cripps received a Knights Bachelor in 1931, hence he became Sir Stafford Cripps and his wife, Lady Isobel Cripps.

Association with Alexander

Cripps and his wife, Dame Isobel (1891-1979), started having lessons with Alexander in 1937 or 1938. Somewhere around 1948 the Cripps’ switched allegiance to Charles Neil and started having lessons with Neil instead of Alexander. Even so, Sir Stafford chaired F. M. Alexander’s 80th birthday celebration dinner in 1949. By December 1948 Dame Isobel became the patron of the Dame Isobel Cripps centre (formerly the Re-Education Centre Ltd), at 18, Lansdowne Road, Holland Park, which was run by one of Alexander’s teachers, Charles Neil, until 1959.[1] When the Daily Telegraph published an article about Sir Stafford Cripps’s health in 1950, implying that Sir Stafford was a pupil of F. M. Alexander, both Alexander and Dr Mungo Douglas wrote to the editor to say Sir Stafford had not been a pupil for the last three years. The correction by the paper included an appreciation of Alexander’s work by Sir Stafford:

I regard it as one of the fortunate experiences of my life that I should have met F. Matthias Alexander at a time when I had been suffering physically for many years, and that I should have had the opportunity of going through a course with him. There can be no doubt as to the value of his technique judged by the practical results which I have myself experienced.

This appreciation was included in the 1955 edition of UoS.[2]

In 1941 he was quoted as follows:

There can be no doubt as to the value of his technique judged by the practical results which I have myself experienced. Instead of feeling one’s body to be an aggregation of ill-fitting parts, full of frictions and dead weights pulling this way and that so as to render mere existence in itself exhausting, the body becomes a coordinated and living whole, composed of well-fitting, truly articulated parts. It is the difference between illness and good health.[3]

Writings

In addition to the above quotations, Sir Stafford was co-signatory to an appreciation published in UCL.[4] His speech on the occasion of F. M. Alexander’s 80th birthday celebration dinner in 1949.[5]

Biographies

Cripps’ association with Alexander is mentioned in the biographies:

  • Stafford Cripps - A Biography by Eric Estorick.[6]
  • The Cripps Version: The Life of Sir Stafford Cripps by Christopher Bryant.[7]

The biography Stafford Cripps – A Political Life by Simon Burgess only mentions in one place that Cripps ‘was tutored by an expert in the Alexander technique’ (given the date this could only refer to Charles Neil).[8]

Sir Richard Stafford Cripps *24 April 1889 – †21 April 1952.

References

[1] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), p. 235.
[2] The Use of the Self by F. M. Alexander (Integral Press, 1955), p. i.
[3] Quoted in ‘Heads Forward – and UP! – A Way to Well-Being for Old and Young’ by Michael March, in Who – The Magazine About People, September 1941, vol. 1, no. 5. Also in A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), p. 67.
[4] The Universal Constant in Living   (2000, Mouritz), pp. xv-xvi.
[5] The Alexander Journal no. 1 edited by Edward H. Owen (STAT, 1962), pp. 4-6.
[6] Stafford Cripps - A Biography by Eric Estorick (William Heinemann Ltd, 1949).
[7] The Cripps Version: The Life of Sir Stafford Cripps by Christopher Bryant (Allen Lane, 2002).
[8] Stafford Cripps – A Political Life by Simon Burgess (Victor Gollanz, 1999), p. 315.