Strachey-Sargent, Alix (1892-1973)

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Alix Strachey, British psychoanalyst was born on June 4, 1892, in Nutley, New Jersey, and died in London on April 28, 1973.

She came form a rather complex but highly intellectual family background and her childhood was quite erratic due to family problems. Educated at Bedales School and then at the Slade School of Art in London, she went up to Cambridge in 1911, where she graduated with a degree in modern languages in 1914. Through her brother Philip and other friends she met at Cambridge, Alix took part in the life of the Blooms-bury Group where she met James Strachey, whom she married in 1920. She became an associate member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society in 1922 and a full member in 1923.

She had a personal analysis in Vienna with Freud for two years from 1920 to 1922, as did her husband. It was during this period that she began helping her husband to translate Freud's work into English. She then went to Berlin for further analysis with Karl Abraham in 1924. In Berlin, she continued her translation work and met Melanie Klein. Alix was instrumental in arranging Klein's first visit to London in 1925 and translated some of her papers into English. Together with her husband, she published the translation of Freud's Five Case Histories, which were assembled in the third volume of his Collected Papers (1925). She finally returned to England after Abraham's death in December 1925.

She undertook other personal analyses: with Edward Glover in 1926 and later with Sylvia Payne. She took part in the administrative life of the British Psycho-Analytical Society but her main contributions were in the field of translation, helping to translate Freud's and others' papers into English. For instance, in collaboration with Douglas Bryan, she translated The Selected Papers of Karl Abraham (1927) and Klein's Psychoanalyse der KindesThe Psychoanalysis of Children in 1932. She also translated Freud's Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety in 1936. In 1943 she published A New German-English Psychoanalytical Vocabulary, a complete index of psychoanalytic terms in English which was instrumental for the Standard Edition. The rest of her time, from the late forties until the late sixties, she was dedicated to helping James publish the Standard Edition. It is sometimes difficult to evaluate Alix's contribution, which has, nevertheless, been invaluable as far as the Standard Edition is concerned. When the Standard Edition was well advanced, Alix was able to dedicate herself to some more personal work, going back to the interests of her youth: social issues, war, and pacifism. She published The Unconscious Motives of War in 1957 and The Psychology of Nationhood in 1960.

Riccardo Steiner

See also: British Psycho-Analytical Society; Great Britain; Hogarth Press; Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety ; Klein-Reizes, Melanie; Strachey, James Beaumont.


Holroyd, Michael. (1973). Lytton Strachey: A critical biography. London: Heinemann.

Meisel, Perry, and Kendrick, Walter. (1986). Bloomsbury-Freud. The letters of James and Alix Strachey 1924-1925. London: Chatto and Windus.