FM Alexander's life span covered amazing and diverse changes for humankind. His early years in the town of Wynyard on the North West Coast of Tasmania saw horses as the main way to move around. bullocks and drays as the transport for goods, and travel by these means difficult became of tracks which in winter could become quagmires.
In the 1870s Wynyard had a population of about 200 people with a few more scattered on nearby farms. Beyond this was the bush, magnificent stands of forest, wild mountainous country with swift flowing rivers through deep gorges covered with dense scrub. Communication with the outside world was slow. Wynyard had a harbour from which small ships could ply up and down the coast to other towns or maybe make the challenging crossing of Bass Strait to Melbourne, Victoria a city with a population in the 1870s of over 200,000 people. At the time this city was flushed with pride due to the success of its phenomenal growth, mainly because of the discovery of gold.
So FM Alexander had the experience of growing up in the small, fairly isolated town of Wynyard; then as a young man living in: Melbourne, New Zealand for a time, Melbourne again, then Sydney. It was now 1904, the year he was to travel by ship to England, remaining there plus prolonged visits to America until his death in London in 1955.
Those years 1904 to 1955 saw such incredible worldwide changes in so many areas of life social, technological and cultural. For FM Alexander living in England in the ‘modern’ times of the first half of the 1900s those formative years of so long ago in Tasmania in the 1870s and 1880s must have seemed like an almost unreal bygone era.
However one’s formative years, the lives and activities of your relatives (FM had many) make lasting impressions.
An event in 1873 involving FM's uncle Matthias Alexander would have kept the locals talking for some time and definitely would become part of Alexander family history. (Matthias, 1845-1912, was a younger brother of John, FM’s father. Their father Matthias Alexander. 1810-1865, came from England to Van Diemen’s Land now Tasmania as a convict in 1831.)
These would have been the years when FM developed the traits of keen observation, a curiosity about the world around him and the need to be self-reliant. In those times people could not throw away material goods and go to the shop for new ones; repairing goods and making one’s own equipment was essential. One learned to make do, to be inventive, to experiment according to need. Self-reliance helped people to survive and prosper.
Alexander’s experiences of life in his early years stood him in good stead when faced with the big challenge to solve his voice problems when as a young actor he was living in Melbourne in the 1890s. FM’s successful solution has led to so many people of later generations being able to use his ideas for their own benefit.