F.M. Alexander was a Shakespearean actor and orator born in Tasmania, Australia in 1869. Early in his career he experienced vocal difficulties to which physicians had no solution. F.M.Alexander slowly realised that the cause of his vocal troubles, had to stem from how he was using his voice.
Alexander set up three mirrors and watched himself while reciting. He noticed that even before speaking, he would get ready to speak: stiffening his neck, shoulders and chest. This constricted his breathing, voice, and movement. He realised that these were not isolated happenings, but parts of a pattern. The root of this pattern lay in a change of the axis of the head on the spine (pulling his head back and down), which led to a cascade of straining and stiffening in his whole body. After finding a way to prevent pulling his head back, F.M. Alexander realised that he could prevent other reactions from happening as well. At first the mirrors were necessary, but he gradually became aware of himself kinaesthetically, enabling him to inhibit his habitual straining without the mirrors.
F.M. Alexander had found a new and indirect way of controlling his voice. He started acting again and teaching this newfound way to others. After some time he realised that his discovery was applicable in more ways than voice and breathing. Doctors started referring odd cases of overstraining and misuse of the body. He was no longer a specialist in voice and breathing, but a general consultant in how to do things, anything, without forcing.
He moved to and gave Lessons in London what later would be known as the Alexander Technique. Some of his more notable students include; Playwright George Bernard Shaw, Founder of RADA Herbert Beerbohm-Tree, Author Aldous Huxley, Philosopher John Dewey, and Author Roald Dahl.