F M Alexander was born in Tasmania in 1869. In his 20s he became an actor, taking Shakespeare to the outback. He was a competent reciter, but began to suffer from hoarseness and loss of voice. He was advised to rest his voice and told he might need an operation, but as he only had problems while reciting and not at other times he decided to observe himself and see what he was doing wrong.
He discovered he was stiffening his neck, which pulled back his head and put pressure on his larynx, which had an adverse effect on his breathing. He taught himself to correct this, and had no more problems.
He then became fascinated by the other ways in which he habitually misused his body in ordinary everyday activities such as standing, sitting and walking. He realised that these imbalances affected all his bodily functions. That’s when he decided to teach his method to “change and improve use” to others.
In 1904 he was persuaded to come to London to teach. He was helped to establish himself by eminent artists such as George Bernard Shaw, Sir Henry Irving and Aldous Huxley.
Alexander died in London at the age of 86, still teaching to the end. He had trained a core of teachers to pass on his methods. Since his death his findings and work have been validated scientifically, and the numbers of teachers and schools of the Alexander Technique continue to increase all over the world.