F M Alexander was born on 20th January 1869 in Tasmania.
Alexander’s family had originally lived, for many generations, in the ancient village of Ramsbury in Wiltshire. Whilst exploring some of my own family history I discovered that some of my mother’s family also came from Ramsbury and one of them married a Mary Alexander in 1764, quite possibly part of F M’s family, although I have not been able to verify this yet….. research still to be done here.
F M’s paternal grandfather, Matthias Alexander was a hurdle maker and other family members were craftsmen. However they supported the impoverished agricultural labourers during the swing riots, in which they protested against the new threshing machines which were costing them their livelihoods. As a result of this support, Alexander’s family was sent to Tasmania as convicts in 1831, something that F M never admitted to in public. If you are interested in discovering more about Alexander’s background, his biography by Michael Bloch makes for interesting reading.
From these difficult beginnings, F M developed an interest in horses and in the theatre and in 1889 he moved to Melbourne, Australia and began to train for a career as a reciter. A few years later, after many bouts of illness which threatened his new career, F M began to develop his now famous Technique. This process is described in some detail his book ‘The Use of the Self‘ and it is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in learning more about the Alexander Technique.