Lionel George Logue - Speech Therapist to King George VI
Owing to the success of the Bafta and Oscar award winning film, The King's Speech * I thought it might be interesting to find out a little about the man who made it all possible, speech therapist, Lionel Logue.
Lionel George Logue was born in College Town, Adelaide, South Australia, on the 26th of February 1880, the eldest child of George and Lavinia Logue.
His father was the son of an Irish immigrant who owned and ran an Adelaide brewery, and it was here that Lionel's father earned his living, as an accountant.
Lionel was educated at The Prince Edward College in Kent Town, Adelaide between the years of 1889 - 1896.
It was whilst here that Lionel found an interest in public speaking and voice control, leading him to want to work in a career that involved either using the voice or voice coaching.
At this time in Australia, the middle classes were encouraged to value their English roots and to aspire to Englishness through voice coaching, which led to a period known as the Elocution Movement, something Lionel was very active in. On leaving college Lionel studied music at the University of Adelaide's Elder Conservatorium and it was whilst studying music that he sought elocution lessons from the eminent voice coach, Edward Reeves, who purged Lionel of his Australian accent.
Lionel went on to work for Reeves in the capacity of secretary and assistant teacher, and it was this experience which led to Lionel to set up his own voice coach practice in 1902.
In 1904, at the age of 26, Lionel took a job at a gold mining company in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Although working full time laying electrical cables, Lionel still found time to teach voice elocution and to indulge in public speaking in his spare time, he also founded a local club for public speaking.
During this time he also indulged in concerts and recitals with local theatre groups, and it was at one of these recitals that he met his future wife, clerk and aspiring actress, Myrtle Gruenert. They were married at St Georges Anglican Church in Perth in March 1907.
In 1911 Lionel was to earn him self a name as an eminent speech therapist, when he took on the task of voice coach to war veterans who had suffered impaired speech due to damaged vocal chords from gas attacks or shell shock.
His patient and empathic approach to these sufferers led to his innovative therapy being highly respected and recognised world wide.His success with these patients then led Lionel to be able to set up his second speech therapy practice, this time in Perth, Western Australia.
It was also during this time that Lionel and Myrtle became the parents of three sons, Valentine, Laurie and Anthony.
In 1924 Lionel took his family on holiday to England, but whilst there he began to take up a number of elocution teaching jobs in London schools. This led to Lionel and his family extending their holiday, which in turn led to Lionel opening up his third speech therapy practice,this time in London's affluent Harley Street some time in1926.
Lionel was well known for charging wealthy customers substantial fees and in turn providing poorer customers with free therapy.
It was during the first year of his new practice in Harley Street, that he recieved a visit from the Duke of York.
A chance meeting between the Duke's equerry and an Australian friend of Lionel's, led to the Duke consulting Lionel, after the equerry had confided to Lionel's friend of his concerns about the Duke's lack of progress with a string of elocution teachers.Lionel's friend's recommendation for the Duke to visit Lionel, resulted in the Duke arriving for a consultation with Lionel, two days later.
From October 1926 until December 1927 the Duke partook of 82 appointments with Lionel, often being accompanied by his wife, Elisabeth, Duchess of York.
Between them, they helped the Duke through the harrowing experience of making the important speech at the opening of Australia's Parliament in Canberra in April 1927.A speech that he made with confidence and that went well for the Duke.
KING GEORGE VI.
The Duke of York had consulted Lionel due to his pronounced stutter.
People at the time were under the impression that the Duke stuttered because of nervousness brought on by the thought of public speaking, but his stutter actually began in early childhood.
The Duke was born left handed, but was encouraged to use only his right hand, which led to feelings of anxiety, frustration and inferiority.
The Duke had never been born to be King, and subsequently lived his life in the shadow of his elder brother Edward, who was being groomed to become the future King.
This led to a somewhat lonely and insular childhood for the Duke, he was also often ridiculed by his siblings for using his left hand and for his ever increasing stutter.His siblings were actually encouraged to ridicule him, as it was believed in that day and age that it would ' cure' him both of his left handedness and his stutter.
When in 1936 George's brother King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of Great Britain in order to marry American socialite, Wallis Simpson, the shy and retiring Duke was reduced to tears at the prospect of becoming King.
King George's nervousness would see a marked deterioration in his speech impediement, leading to the new king seeking help from Lionel once more.
Lionel commenced daily, vocal and breathing exercises to avoid muscle spasm and to take the King through practice speeches.
The Queen Consort Elisabeth also played a large part in these daily therapy sessions.
Lionel also helped the King to write his speeches in order to avoid words which the King found hard to pronounce and would also accompany the King when he made public speeches or speeches for the radio, sitting far enough away so as not to be seen, but near enough so as to be able to prompt the King, if he got into difficulty.
Due to his services towards the King, Lionel was awarded the MVO ( Member of the Royal Victorian Order ) on the 11th of May 1937, and further awarded the CVO ( Commander of the Royal Victorian Order ) on the 8th of June 1943.The MVO and CVO is a dynastic order of knighthood that is awarded for the recognition of personal service towards a reigning monarch.
Image courtesy of Nicholas Jackson, wikimedia commons.
Lionel remained close to the King, still offering both support and friendship right up until his Majesty's death in February 1952.
However, Lionel's time was not all taken up with helping the king.Throughout his life he had been a keen amateur dramatist and public speaker. He became a Freemason and co - founded the British Society of Speech Therapists in 1935, he had also been a lifelong Christian Scientist, but after the death of his wife in 1945 he began to take an interest in Spiritualism.
Lionel Logue died on the 12th of April 1953, at his home in Knightsbridge, London, at the age of 73. His ashes were scattered along the rose garden of the Brompton Cemetery in London.
* Lionel Logue is played by actor Geoffrey Rush in the film The King's Speech.
Source - Australian Dictionary of Biography, published by The Australian National University.
Logue, Lionel George, 1880 - 1953, by Suzanne Edgar.
Lionel George Logue CVO 1880 - 1953
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