Mornum Time Press
Mornum Time Press

Alexander Technique Publications

An Examined Life: Marjory Barlow in conversation with Trevor Allan Davies

An Examined Life: Marjory Barlow in conversation with Trevor Allan Davies


Text and Cover Design by Marianne Ackerman

Hardcover, 352 pages, ISBN 0-9644352-4-1


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From the Author

When my husband Bill and I started our first training course over 50 years ago, it was to satisfy the need of three of our private pupils who wished (and in my estimation, needed) to train. The training course continued for many years, always on that basis-to serve those who needed and wanted it.

This book had a similar genesis. Trevor Allan Davies is a pupil and friend of mine, and this book was his idea. He felt that my particular experience of the Technique and my memories of the early days with F.M. and A.R. (my teachers and my uncles) might be of value to present and future generations of Alexander teachers, separated from their historical roots by an ever widening gap of time.

As this gap widens there is a danger that the Work will be misrepresented to the people who really matter, the members of the public who come to us for assistance. I hope that in giving you my memories of F.M.'s words and practices (as I remember them) I may encourage you to be true to the principles of his work and to continue to delve into his books for guidance and inspiration.

Everyone had their own F.M.-he was a rich and complex character. As with many other great men whose mastery embraces the human as a whole being, our opinions, memories, assessments and criticisms of him may reveal more about ourselves than about him. One of the most valuable functions of such people is to be our mirror. This book represents my F.M.-but mine wasn't the only one, and what I have to say here about my experience of him is not intended to deny or cast doubt on others' experience of him.

F.M. said that he had "only scratched the surface of the egg" in his lifetime of work in this new field of investigation. It is up to us, and particularly now to new teachers, to scratch deeper. I would like to suggest that this further development-the real future of the Work-be sought first and foremost in the first person singular. Having read the manuscript, I can happily say that through his many hours of interviewing, transcribing, arranging and editing of the original conversations into their present form, Trevor has served me well. Many of the things he drew from me with his questions were things which I didn't know I had in me. He knew how to push the right buttons. So this book is a dialogue, not a monologue.

I have been a pupil, then teacher and trainer of the Alexander Work for 69 years. What I can express about it in words, is here. I offer it to you in all humility, in the hope that it may be of some use to you. My sincere wish is that you will continue to inhibit and direct in order to be happy.

Marjory Barlow

About the Book

A fascinating memoir, in interview form, on the life and thoughts of Marjory Barlow. Marjory Barlow grew up with the Alexander Technique, and the Alexander Technique grew up with her. She started daily lessons on her 17th birthday with her uncle F.M. Alexander, and joined his teacher training course a year later. She was 21 when she qualified as a teacher of the Alexander Technique and she stayed on as her uncle's assistant for a further four years. She ran her own training course from 1950 until the 1980's. An Examined Life is Marjory's opportunity to gather and share the unique experiences of her seven-decade career.

For those of you who know Marjory Barlow, you know you are in for a treat. And if you haven't had that good fortune, these conversations are a generous invitation to share the benefits of an examined life.

An Examined Life is a beautifully designed hardcover edition. It includes Appendices with Marjory Barlow's two Memorial lectures, as well as stories and aphorisms collected by several teachers trained by her.


"Great book for any AT trainee or serious student." Amazon review. 2015
"A couple of years ago I went through a phase, where I needed to clear my flat and get rid of everything that I didn¹t really need. Among lots of other stuff, I got rid of a pile of books, including books on the Alexander-technique. The only books on the technique that remained were Alexander¹s books and Walter's published lectures and books, including Thinking Aloud. Also Fiona Robb¹s Not to do and Pat Macdonald¹s book were allowed to stay. The Examined Life has been wonderful to read, and will definitely remain in my bookshelf."  Matti Luoto

The Authors

Marjory Barlow (b.1915) is the niece of F.M. Alexander, the founder of the Alexander Technique. She began studying with her uncle in 1931, and began her teacher training with him in 1932. She spent her formative professional years working with him and his brother A.R. Alexander.
In 1950, with her husband Dr. Wilfred Barlow, she began the first training course for Alexander teachers after F.M. Alexander's own. In recent years Marjory has become more openly active and influential in the international Alexander community. She continues to live and work in London, and to give master classes to Alexander teachers from all over the world.

Trevor Allan Davies, born in Canada in 1952, trained as an Alexander teacher at the Centre for the Alexander Technique. He first met Marjory Barlow in 1991 for private lessons, and they began this book in 1993. For the F. Matthias Alexander Trust they made audio recordings of Alexander's four books, for release on CD-ROM.

He now lives in Herfordshire, UK, where he continues his teaching work, as well as acting, writing, and running an organic flower farm with his wife.