COMPANION

Biography

Ethel (‘Pip’) Mary Webb (1866–1952), English pianist, teacher of the Alexander Technique and assistant to F. M. Alexander. Life Webb was a daughter of George Webb, of the Mappin and Webb silversmith family business. She studied piano in the 1890s in Berlin and became a fine pianist but did not have the strength to perform professionally. In Berlin she befriended Alice Fowler and together they taught the piano privately in New York. Here she met and became friends with Wendell Bush.[1] In about 1900 Webb returned to London. She was so impressed with MSI (1910) that she...
Life Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania in 1869. He started to evolve his technique in the early 1890s. It was initially developed to solve the frequent loss of voice he suffered working as a reciter. A successful reciter and teacher of elocution he toured Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. He first taught the Technique as applied to elocution, but he gradually discovered how applicable it is to all activities of living and how fundamental a contribution to health and well-being it makes. He settled first in Melbourne, and later in Sydney where he advertised his Operatic...
Fran Robinson (†2010), UK teacher of the Alexander Technique. Fran Robinson obtained a BA degree from the University of Manchester in 1971. She qualified as a teacher of the Alexander Technique with Peter Scott in London in 1975. In 1984 she received a certificate in Basic Training from the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology. In 1996 she qualified as a Painless Spinal Touch therapist. In 2002 she trained as a Pilates teacher. She trained teachers in Italy 1988–93, at a small village near Pisa, in Tuscany, where she ran the Italian Centre for the Alexander Technique....
François (Alexandre N. C.) Delsarte (1811–71), French teacher of singing and acting, known for being the founder of a method of expression known as the Delsarte System. The Delsarte System Acting in the early 19th century was mechanical and stereotyped; Delsarte represented one of the first modern attempts to develop a dramatic technique in the actual physical process of acting rather than by instilling routine imitation. Over many years he observed and codified the gestures and attitudes which people instinctively assume—covering almost all situations and emotions....
Frank Ottiwell (1929 – 2015), prominent US teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Frank Ottiwell studied acting at the Canadian Art Theatre School and at the Vera Soloviova Acting School in New York City. He started taking lessons with Judy Leibowitz in September 1954, and started on her teachers training course in September 1956. He graduated in 1959 and started teaching, especially to performers, while also pursuing an acting career. In 1967 the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) relocated to San Francisco and Frank moved with them and became their resident Alexander...
Frank Pierce Jones (1905–1975), US professor of Classics and a teacher and researcher of the Alexander Technique. Life Jones was an instructor in Greek and Latin at Brown University 1937–41. In 1938 he started having lessons with A. R. and subsequently trained as teacher (1941–44), first with F. M. and later with A. R. He started teaching in Boston in 1945. Perceiving the need for more formal research into the workings of the Technique, Jones studied anatomy and physiology and received what amounted to private tuition from a number of scientists in order...
Frederick (‘Fred’) C. Chatto Watts (1896–1953), British publisher, and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life He was the son of the founder of the Rationalist Press Association, Charles Albert Watts (1858–1946), which was established in 1885 for the purpose of publishing secular books, and for the promotion of humanism and free thinking. F. C. C. Watts succeeded his father as editor of the Literary Guide and Rationalist Review (today published as the New Humanist). He also succeeded his father as managing director and chairman of C. A. Watts & Co. and continued the...
Geoffrey Curtis CR (1902–1981), Anglican priest and pupil of the Alexander Technique. Life The Revd Geoffrey William Seymour Curtis CR was educated at Charterhouse School (1915–20) and University College, Oxford (BA, 1923), before training for ordination at Cuddesdon Theological College, Oxford. He was ordained deacon in 1925 for the parish of Saint Mary the Virgin, Bury, and was ordained priest in 1926 by Bishop (later Archbishop) William Temple (who was at one time a pupil of F. M. Alexander). After Bury, he had a series of short appointments, including Vice-Principal,...
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was an Irish playwright, critic and polemicist, and a pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life George Bernard Shaw was born in Ireland but moved to London in 1873 where he lived for most of his life. He wrote more than sixty plays, including Arms and the Man (1894), Man and Superman (1903), Pygmalion (1913) and Saint Joan (1923). His influence on British theatre was enormous, as his plays did not follow the tradition of Victorian melodramas and introduced a new realism and ‘the theatre of ideas’. He was a socialist, a vegetarian, and a pacifist,...
Coghill, George Ellett (1872–1941), US professor of anatomy and researcher into the development of reflexes of movement in vertebrates. Coghill wrote an appreciation for The Universal Constant in Living, and Alexander and his supporters used Coghill’s discoveries as a scientific support for the Alexander Technique. Life Coghill started his biology studies in 1897, became assistant professor of biology in 1900, and took a Ph.D. in 1902. He then worked at several universities but it was during his teaching at the University of Kansas (1913–25) that he carried out a large...
Gerald Stanley Lee (1862–1944), US clergyman, author of popular books, and a pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life Gerald Stanley Lee was an American Congregational clergyman of puritan background. He was a preacher in several churches in New England and Minnesota before resigning from the pulpit in 1896 to dedicate himself to writing. He was the author of numerous popular books and essays. He married Jennette Barbour Perry in 1896 (who also became a pupil of Alexander and went on to teach her own version of the Technique). His first successful book was Inspired Millionaires (1908)...
Goddard Binkley (1920-1987), US teacher of the Technique, who is known for his diary of his lessons with F. M. Alexander, published as The Expanding Self. Life Goddard Binkley was born in 1920 in Chicago. During his studies towards a Ph.D. in Sociology at the New School for Social Research, New York, he started having lessons in the Alexander Technique. Considering training as an Alexander teacher he went to London in 1951 to have lessons with F. M. Alexander. He joined Alexander’s teacher training course in 1953 and qualified in 1957. Binkley painted and made sculptures and...
Grahame Fagg (1916–2002), doctor and pupil of Charles Neil. Life Grahame Fagg qualified in 1938 at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, and served in India during World War II. He joined the Luton Children’s Annexe in 1950, before moving to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and later joining the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.[1] He was Consultant paediatrician in Hitchin, Luton, and Stevenage 1950–80.[2] [3] Fagg came across Charles Neil and his version of the Alexander Technique when searching for help in treating asthmatic children. Fagg became a supporter of...
Grethe Laub (1911–1996), Danish teacher of the Alexander Technique whose special interest was working with children. Life Grethe Laub trained as a nursery school teacher at the Froebel Institute in Copenhagen between 1933-35. In 1949 she travelled to London and had a number of lessons with F. M. Alexander as well as some with his assistants. She trained with Walter Carrington at the Constructive Teaching Centre (CTC) 1962–65. Here she ran a nursery school in the basement for one year. She would continue to visit CTC for the rest of her life. Returning to Denmark she set...
Gurney MacInnes, teacher of the Technique, who trained on Alexander’s first training course. Life MacInnes came into contact with Alexander in 1927 through A. G. Pite who shortly afterwards became Headmaster of Weymouth College, a boys’ preparatory school. MacInnes taught at the Junior School at Weymouth for two terms before joining Alexander’s training course (1931–34), quite possibly with the purpose of teaching the Technique in schools and encouraged by Pite as Pite was anxious to introduce the Technique into the school. MacInnes worked in Weymouth College...
Henry Brodribb Irving (1870–1919), English actor and manager, elder son of Sir Henry Irving. Henry Irving started acting in 1891 and revived many of his father’s famous parts both in England and in America. He also ran his own company, and was manager of several London theatres.[1] Writings in support of the Alexander Technique Following F. M. Alexander’s letter ‘Breathing and Cancer’ in Pall Mall Gazette (19 October 1909), Henry Irving wrote a letter which was published in Pall Mall Gazette (21 October 1909) and subsequently in a flyer produced by...
Sir Henry Irving (1838–1905), born John Henry Brodribb, English actor, and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life Irving started acting in 1856 and made his London début ten years later. It was his success in The Bells in London (1871) which secured his reputation. (Note, that Alexander saw Walter Bentley in the lead role in The Bells in Melbourne in 1891 which inspired him to write a poem called ‘The Dream of Matthias the Burgomaster’[1]). With his Shakespearian rôles Irving gained his reputation as the greatest English actor of his time. He is reported to have...
Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), influential English philosopher and prominent liberal political theorist. He is quoted by F. M. Alexander. Herbert Spencer’s work and philosophy Herbert Spencer espoused a philosophy of inevitable progression and positivism with a belief in a unity of scientific method, a belief in natural law governing everything including human thinking and behaviour. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics (1851) expounded the idea of social evolution as increasing individualism, and this theme was repeated throughout his System of Synthetic Philosophy. The...
Horace M. Kallen (1882–1974), Professor of social philosophy, educator, and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life Horace Kallen was born in Austrian Silesia (now part of Poland), and his family moved to the US in 1887. He studied philosophy at Harvard University and at Oxford University. He taught at Princeton University, Harvard University (until 1911), and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (until 1918). He then became a founding member and professor of the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he remained for the rest of his career.[1] [2] [3] He was the author...
Influences on early writings The First 43 Years of the Life of F. Matthias Alexander, volumes 1–2, by Jeroen Staring (1996) covers predominantly possible influences on Alexander and his technique until 1912 by comparing Alexander’s writings with contemporary people’s writings.[1] Influence on voice and breathing In his 1894–95 writings F. M. Alexander mentions or quotes from the following voice and breathing authors: Lennox Browne and Emile Behnke (authors of Voice Song and Speech, 1883, and others).[2] Andrew Comstock (author of A System of Elocution...

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