Lionel Logue's unconventional method for treating stuttering

Logue with Myrtle Gruenert at the time of their engagement in Perth in 1906

"The Queen and I have just viewed the film of our Coronation, and I could not wait to send you a few lines to thank you again for your hard work in helping me prepare for the great day."

In a letter with a Windsor Castle logo, King George VI wrote his handwriting to his best friend. As if to send a warm hug, George VI greeted the recipient of the letter with the phrase "My dear Logue."

The letter was written on May 17, 1937, five days after his coronation as the King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. A small gift in the form of a silver cigarette box bearing the Royal cipher completed a thank-you package from the King to his close friend and therapist Lionel George Logue.

George VI and Logue's relationship was not just a therapist with his patient. More than that, they made friends until finally, George VI died, and Logue followed him a year later.

In the letter, George VI described the night before the coronation was very tense, and the rehearsal was poor. But Logue managed to calm him down.

A crowd in Parliament Square waiting to watch the coronation procession rehearsal on May 10, 1937, two days before the ceremony (Leonard Bentley)

When the coronation ceremony took place, George VI gave a smooth speech. There was no stutter. Everything went smoothly until the end of the procession.

George VI humbly acknowledged that success was the fruit of Logue's supervision. Without Logue, George VI might only be seen as the King of Stuttering.

"I want you to know how grateful I am, not only for your invaluable help with my speech, but for your devoted friendship and encouragement, and I hope you will accept this small gift as a token of my appreciation."

Logue received the King's kindness until the end of his life. The letter and cigarette container were kept well until he died on April 12, 1953, exactly today, 67 years ago. The King's thanks then changed hands until they were found again in mid-March.

After Logue's death, the letter and cigarette container were indeed brought by his brother Herbert. But Herbert considered the Logue's legacy to be no more valuable than a diamond-and-sapphire-belted pearl necklace, so he exchanged the two at Charles McGowan's jewelry store.

For some time, the proof of gratitude from George VI was cared for by McGowan in Australia. Then in March, as if he was about to make a fortune, the leading regional auctioneer in the UK, Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury, put up the artifact to the public. Those parts of the history of the British Empire were valued at four thousand pounds.

Although known as a speech therapist for the King, Logue wasn't really a doctor or a person with a therapeutic educational background. He was born into a businessman family.

His grandfather Edward Logue came from Dublin. In 1856, Edward founded Logue's Brewery, later knows as Kent Town Brewery, a brewing company in South Australia.

The view of Kent Town Brewery c. 1876, corner Rundle Street and Dequetteville Terrace

His father George Edward Logue worked as an accountant in the family-owned beer factory. In 1879, he married a girl named Lavinia. The woman gave birth to her first child on February 26, 1880, in College Park, Adelaide, South Australia. This baby was later known as a pioneer in speech therapy.

In the following days, George Edward Logue continued the family's talent as a businessman and plunged into the Burnside Hotel and Elephant and Castle Hotel.

But the young Logue was different. After completing his education at Prince Alfred College, he continued his studies at the oldest music school in Australia, the Elder Conservatorium of Music.

When Logue got to 15, in another part of the world, Albert Frederick Arthur George was born into the British royal family. His title was Duke of York, but he was intimately called Bertie by his family and close friends.

Little Bertie grew up without enough love and warmth from his family. His life was very depressing. Despite being left-handed, he was demanded to write with his right hand. Bertie had a serious stuttering problem, and that condition made him inferior. He was often ridiculed when giving a speech.

Edward, later Edward VIII (rear) and Albert, later George VI (foreground)

Until his brother Edward VIII abdicated, Duke of York was never expected to inherit the throne, especially after his speech at the British Empire Exhibition on October 31, 1925, was failed.

But who would have thought destiny was finally kind to him. He was being introduced to Logue in 1926. At that time, nearly two years Logue had left Australia to England, ostensibly for a holiday.

Logue married Myrtle Gruenert on March 20, 1907, in Perth. Settling in Perth, he taught elocution, public speaking, and acting at several schools. He also founded a public-speaking club.

In the country where he migrated, England, precisely at 146 Harley Street, London, he opened a new practice of speech therapy in 1924. Benevolent Logue implemented a system of cross-subsidies for underprivileged patients taken from the payment of high-level clients.

His fame in healing many people from stuttering came to the ears of Lord Stamfordham, the Private Secretary of King George V, who then introduced him to Duke of York. Long story short, the two met intensively and formed a friendship.

On May 12, 1937, when Duke of York was crowned King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, Logue came to support him. Before King George VI gave a speech, Logue whispered to him, "Now take it quietly, Sir." Shy, stuttering Bertie who was once considered incompetent turned into a respected king. Almost in his every successful speech, there was always Logue behind him.

The King and Queen in the Gold State Coach during the procession (Rijksmuseum)

No one knew for sure how Logue cured stuttering because he never listed his theoretical thought in a document. There was no evidence that he did the study. There was little recognition from former patients as an illustration of Logue's speech therapy method at the time.

Before meeting with Duke of York, during World War I, Logue healed returned soldiers of the Australian Army afflicted with a speech impediment. They were shocked by the whistle of bullets and cannon bombardment during the war. Logue made them speak fluently with breathing and diaphragm exercises.

A similar exercise was applied to Duke of York, who suffered from coordination disorders between the larynx and thoracic diaphragm. An hour each day, the duke practiced rigorous exercises. He intoned the vowels near the window.

Logue restored the Duke's confidence by relaxing the tension that caused muscle spasms. He made his patients relax by making jokes, giving a lot of sympathies, and being patient in the therapy session. In 1927, for the first time, Duke of York spoke confidently and without stammering at the opening of Old Parliament House in Canberra. It was also Logue who prepared the King's Speech on September 3, 1939, when the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.

Another patient, Geoffrey Elliott, a professor from the University of Worcester, had the experience of meeting Logue at the age of 3. Elliott's snippets of stories reinforced the notion that the Logue's therapy method was a combination of dialogue, breathing, and hypnosis.

As a child, Elliott suffered from stuttering. He had received treatment from a health center in the United Kingdom for six months, but it was failed. Elliott's father then drove him to Harley Street, but he was not allowed from entering the practice room. In the room, Elliott only remembered that he was asked to hop across the room.

"My next recall is of my father's tearful thanks to Logue on my return to the waiting room, when I could speak without the wretched stutter," said Elliott.

Unfortunately, during World War II, Logue reduced his practice schedule and had to work as an air-raid warden. Logue's profession was recorded in his death certificate on April 12, 1953, as a speech therapist.

Although today the modern health could only guess at the Logue's therapy method, it had opened up the world's understanding that stuttering could be cured, just like any other disease.


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