Frederick Matthias (F.M.) Alexander, was an actor of the 1890′s in Australia. He liked to perform Shakespeare, and gave solo shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

He was born in 1869 in Wynard, a small town on the north coast of Tasmania. He had an early interest in Shakespeare, and decided to become an actor. He trained as a reciter in Melbourne, supporting himself with various jobs, but began developing vocal and throat problems. Continuing with his career never-the-less, he was forced to begin his investigation into the problem when it began to seriously affect his ability to perform.

His process of self-discovery and change, is described in his book “The Use of the Self“.  His principles of human functioning are of far reaching value, there is an outline of his principle discoveries here.

Having solved his voice problem, he worked in Auckland New Zealand, Melbourne and Sydney, giving performances and teaching his new method for “changing and controlling reaction”. He moved to Sydney in 1899 and was director of the Sydney Dramatic and Operatic Conservatorium between 1900 and 1904.

Moving to London in 1904 he worked with actors and others and wrote his first book, “Man’s Supreme Inheritance”, published in 1910.

He wrote three further books, “The Use of the Self”, “Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual” and “The Universal Constant in Living”. See the books page here.

He lived in the United States from 1940 to 1943 and died, still working, in London in 1955.


This story, of perceptiveness, of intelligence, and of persistence, shown by a man without medical training, is one of the true epics of medical research and practice.

Nikolaas Tinbergen: From his Nobel prize acceptance speech in Physiology

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