COMPANION

First Generation Teachers

A. R. Alexander, Irene Tasker

Albert Redden (‘A. R.’) Alexander (1874-1947), teacher of the Alexander Technique and F. M. Alexander’s younger brother. Life After service in the Boer War he joined F. M. Alexander’s teaching practice in 1901 in Melbourne which he continued after F. M. moved to London in 1904. A. R. joined F. M. in London in 1911.[1] In 1917 A. R. was paralysed for about six months from a riding accident but recovered, though from then on he walked with a cane and would often sit while teaching the Technique. Between 1915 and 1925 he regularly taught in the US and in 1934 or 35...
Alan Murray (1897–1975), Australian teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Alan Murray studied acting and music and worked with a theatre company in Melbourne. After a tour of America in the 1920s Alan Murray settled for some time in New York where he was involved in acting, stage production and dramatic teaching. He started working for Alice Bailey of the Arcane School of Philosophy and Comparative Religion, teaching and doing administration. He did some of this work at the centre’s headquarters at Tunbridge Wells, England. Through his wife, Marcia (neé Ford), he...
Alma (Mae Magoon) Frank (1898–1953), US teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Frank received an M.A. from Teachers’ College of Columbia University. She heard about the Technique from Margaret Naumburg while teaching at Naumburg’s nursery school at Walden – one of the first progressive educational schools in the US. (Naumburg, who founded the Walden school, was instrumental in bringing Alexander to the USA.) Frank worked with Lawrence Frank (no relation) and received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to study the Technique; she trained with Alexander 1937...
Anthony Spawforth (1919-2003), British teacher of the Alexander Technique, who started his training with F. M. Alexander. Life Anthony Spawforth started training with F. M. Alexander in February 1951, and was qualified by Walter Carrington in 1955. He worked as an assistant at Ashley Place and also taught part-time in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1958, and was the first teacher to teach the Technique in continental Europe. He and his wife Pat, who also trained in the Technique, moved to Bournemouth in 1966 where he taught until a few days before his death. For some years he also...
Countess Wielopolska, née Catherine (‘Kitty’) Merrick (1900-1988), US teacher of the Technique. Life Wielopolska had a degree as a nurse-midwife and worked in a Maternity Center. She was a friend of Lulie Westfeldt and both joined Alexander’s first training course in 1931. Wielopolska battled with schizophrenia for most of her life. She was due to graduate from Alexander’s training course, but suffered a breakdown and returned to the US. She never obtained a certificate from Alexander. Around 1945 she married Count Alfred Wielopolska, who had fled Poland...
Charles Alexander Neil (1916–58), British teacher of the Technique, who developed his own version of the Alexander Technique and started the Isobel Cripps Centre (1948-1958). Life Charles Neil suffered from severe asthmatic attacks which the Technique alleviated to a great extent. He trained 1933–36 and left Ashley Place in 1937 to teach on his own.[1] [2] Re-Education Centre, Dame Isobel Cripps Centre After the war, in which he served in India, he set up the Re-Education Centre in Holland Park (c. 1947) together with Eric de Peyer, who had also trained with Alexander...
Dr Dorothy S. R. (neé Drew) Morrison (1908-88) was a British surgeon and gynaecologist, teacher of the Technique and practitioner of alternative medicine. Life Morrison gained her MD in 1934 and was later awarded a Gold Medal in Gynaecology. In 1935 she married Leonard David Morrison, an architect. She was a friend of Anthony Mario Ludovici, who had known Dorothy’s father, Guy Drew since 1900. In the late 1930s and early 1940s she lived in Upper Norwood where also Ludovici lived. It was Ludovici who recommended Morrison to see Alexander. Morrison had met Alexander at a...
Elisabeth Walker (1914-2013), British teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life She trained as a radiographer in 1935 at Middlesex Hospital and became assistant to Graham Hodgson. His practice in Upper Brook Street, London, served many royalty and celebrities of the day (Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Mrs Simpson (the Duchess of Windsor) and Vivien Leigh). Elisabeth started having lessons with Alexander in 1937, and in 1938 she and her husband, Dick, started training as teachers of the Technique with F. M. Alexander. They married in 1938 and had six children of which five...
Eric de Peyer (1906–90), British teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life After graduating in English from Oxford he studied archaeology for a short time before joining Alexander’s training course (1936-39). He married Jean in 1938 and they had four sons. He worked with Charles Neil at the Re-Education Centre (of which de Peyer was vice-principal), which became the Isobel Cripps Centre in December 1948. In 1953 de Peyer left to set up his own private practice at Wellington Square, Chelsea. From 1979 he also practised in West Wittering until increasing incapacity from...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Irene Stewart Janet Irene Stewart (1906–1990), Scottish teacher of the Technique. Life Irene Stewart was a District Commissioner of the Girl Guide Movement but, suffering from asthma, she moved to London after hearing about the Technique from Margaret Goldie. She trained 1931–34 and subsequently taught at Ashley Place. Together with Alexander, Ethel Webb, Margaret Goldie and the Little School she went to USA in 1940, returning in 1943. As one of Alexander’s assistants and friends she often drove him places, went riding with him and joined him for weekends at Penhill...
Irene Tasker (1887–1977), British teacher of the Alexander Technique who started the ‘Little School’ and was the first teacher of the Alexander Technique in South Africa. Life Irene Tasker was the daughter of Rev. John Greenwood Tasker,  a Wesleyan minister and one time Principal of the Theological College at Handsworth in Birmingham. She went to school in Birmingham and studied at the Girton College, Cambridge 1907–10 when she gained a classical tripos. Although she gained a M.A. the certificate was not issued until 1927. She was governess and taught a...
John Skinner (1912–92), Australian-born British teacher of the Technique. Skinner served in the Royal Australian Air Force, and was a POW under the Japanese. He had read of Alexander’s work in Aldous Huxley’s Ends and Means and wrote immediately after the war to Alexander who responded encouragingly. Skinner arrived in London in December 1945, started training in November 1946 and soon afterwards took over the job of secretary from Walter Carrington. He was secretary and administrator and gave great support to Alexander during difficult times: the South African Trial and...
Lulie Westfeldt (1898–1965), U. S. teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life At the age of seven she had poliomyelitis, the scars of which caused her some disability. On the advice of a friend she went in 1929 to London where she had lessons with Alexander. She joined the first teachers training course in February 1931, qualifying in 1935. She taught in New York from 1937 until her death. She ran a teachers training course in the 1940s (from which Judith Leibowitz qualified in 1949).[1] [2] (Alma Frank writes in a letter in 1947: ‘Evidently Lulie is training teachrs already....
Ellen Avery Margaret Goldie (1905-1997), British teacher of the Technique and assistant to F. M. Alexander Margaret Goldie qualified as a teacher of the Technique in 1934 and worked for Alexander until his death in 1955. Life Goldie first started having lessons in 1927 due to poor health (‘insomnia, spinal curvature, a bad digestion, a permanent feeling of nerviness [sic] and exhaustion, and great susceptibility to any form of epidemic infection’).[1] She was at that time training in the Froebel Teachers’ Training College, and was taken to see F. M. Alexander by the...
Marjorie (‘Marj’) Barstow (1899–1995), US teacher of the Technique who pioneered a new way of teaching the Alexander Technique in a group setting. Life Barstow was born in 1899 in Ord, Nebraska, the youngest of four children. After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1921 she taught ballet and ballroom dancing. She came across the article ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ in the Atlantic Monthly and decided to have lessons with Alexander. In 1927 she went to London and had a six-month course of lessons with F. M. and A. R. Alexander. After her...
Marjorie (‘Chile’) Eagar, née Gray (1915–2008), British teacher of the Alexander Technique. Marjorie Eagar lived in South America until the age of 16 when the family moved to Yorkshire. She trained as a Montessori teacher in 1932–34. After a series of lessons from Marjory Barlow she trained with Alexander 1946–48. Gray has been working as a school teacher as well as teaching the Technique. She married Geoffrey Eagar in 1956 and they moved to Wales (near Llanybri, Carmathenshire) in 1974, and later retired to Hampshire. Some descriptions of her...

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