Papers of Teresa Billington-Greig

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 7TBG
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      33 A boxes

Scope and Content

The archive consists of three parts.

Part 1 (7TBG/1) consists of records collated during Billington-Grieg's membership of a large number of international women's organisations, associated correspondence, drafts of papers presented at conferences, as well as publications received from the organisations. In addition there are papers related to her unpublished biography of Charlotte Despard.

Billington Grieg was a keen suffrage historian, and her historical writings on suffrage (as well as papers reflecting her own suffrage activism) are represented in her archive.

Subjects covered include: women's suffrage, post-suffrage campaign period, status of women, equal pay, women workers, women's education, war and peace, sex and prostitution, international women's activism.

Formats include: correspondence, drafts and notes of speeches and articles, photographs and printed material (press cuttings, newspapers, leaflets, pamphlets, journals and books).

Part 2 (7TBG/2) contains leaflets, circulars, election papers and reports of meetings of the Central Women's Electoral Committee established by the Women's Freedom League (1937-1939); papers of the Women's Freedom League itself including incomplete executive committee minutes (1937-1941), papers of conferences (1937, 1938, 1952, 1953, 1955), publications and circulars; files, publications, committee papers and other official papers of the Women for Westminster group and Teresa Billington Greig's notes and related correspondence (1938-1950); minutes, related correspondence and official papers of the Married Women's Association (1937-1961); publications of the Fawcett Society (1937-1961); publications, notices of meetings and agendas of the Women's Council (1948-1959); publications and papers of the Six Point Group (1959-1961); the Women's Publicity Planning Association (1942-1949); the International Alliance of Women (1946-1961); the British Commonwealth League (1947-1961), periodicals, invitations and news sheets (1950-1960); minutes, conference agendas, correspondence and papers of the National Women Citizen's Association (1939-1961); notes and quotations for articles, miscellaneous leaflets, pamphlets and government publications (1905-1961); notes and press cuttings related to the Commonwealth and the 'Third World' (1949-1961); and materials collected by Teresa Billington Greig for articles and a biography of Charlotte Despard including notes, a draft memoir and essays, list of interview questions and replies, pamphlets by Despard, correspondence and photographs.

Part 3 (7TBG/3) consists of correspondence, papers relating to the literary work of Frederick Lewis Billington-Greig (sometimes writing as Laurence Kirk), press cuttings and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Teresa Billington-Greig (1877-1964) was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1877 and brought up in Blackburn in a family of drapers. Although from a Roman Catholic family, Billington-Greig became an agnostic whilst still in her teens. Having left school with no qualifications she was initially apprenticed to the millinery trade. However, she ran away from home and educated herself well enough at night classes to become a teacher. She worked as a teacher at a Roman Catholic school in Manchester, studying at Manchester University in her spare time, until her own agnosticism made this impossible. From there Billington-Greig joined the Municipal Education School service where her religious beliefs brought her into conflict with her employers. However, through the Education Committee there she met Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903 who found her work in a Jewish school, while that same year she became a member and organiser of the Independent Labour Party. In Apr 1904 she was the founder and honorary secretary of the local branch of the Equal Pay League within the National Union of Teachers. In either late 1903 or early 1904, she joined the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) and became one of their travelling speakers. She was sent to London with Annie Kenney to foster the movement there and to create a London-based organisation, which eventually became the headquarters of the Union. This was done on a small financial budget. The following year she was asked to become the second full-time organiser of the group in its work with the Labour Party and in this capacity she organised publicity and demonstrations as well as building up the group's new national headquarters in London. In Jun 1906, Billington-Greig was arrested in an affray outside of Asquith's home and later sentenced to a fine or two months in Holloway Prison. She was the first suffragette to be sent to Holloway Prison although an anonymous reader of the Daily Mirror paid the fine. Later in the same month, Jun 1906, she was sent to organise the WSPU in Scotland and it was here that she married Frederick Lewis Greig 1907. However, growing differences with the Pankhursts led to her resignation as a paid organiser, though she remained in the group as a member until Oct 1907. In Oct 1907, Mrs Pankhurst suspended the constitution and took over government of the WSPU with her daughter Christabel. Several prominent members left the WSPU, including Billington-Greig, Mrs How-Martyn and Charlotte Despard who together went on to form the Women's Freedom League (WFL) on the basis of organisational democracy. Billington-Greig was initially appointed the National Honorary Organising Secretary for the League. However, Billington-Greig once more resigned in 1910 when the WFL undertook a new campaign of militancy after the defeat of the Conciliation Bill. Although she did not immediately join another organisation Billington-Greig continued to write and carry out public speaking engagements - activities she continued throughout her life. She also cared for her daughter, born in 1915, and supported her husband's billiards table company. Her only organisational work until 1937 was in the field of sport. Then she once more joined the Woman's Freedom League working for it's Women's Electoral Committee. After the Second World War this became the Women for Westminster group with which she remained involved. Subsequently she took part in the Conference on the Feminine Point of View (1947-1951) and after 1958 she was a member of the Six Point Group while writing her account of the Suffrage Movement. She had a keen interest in the history of the suffrage movement, as well as her writings on the subject she compiled many biographies. Some of these were created for obituaries for the Manchester Guardian. Her writings on behalf of the women's cause (but to some extent in criticism of it) included 'The Militant Suffrage Movement', published in 1911. Other writings cover a wide range of topics of social and feminist interest. She wrote innumerable articles for a variety of journals. Her interests were wide and she was involved in a large number of women's organisation. In 1904 she had formed the Manchester Branch of the Equal Pay League. She held strong views on a variety of subjects of public interest, but especially equality between the sexes in education and in marriage. She died in 1964.


The archive consists of three accessions to the Women's Library, these have not yet been sorted and arranged as one archive, but remain as three sets of material.

In 2009 the following publications were removed from series 7TBG/3 as duplicates are held in The Women's Library Printed Collections:

* Towards woman's liberty / by Teresa Billington-Greig Billington-Greig, Teresa, 1877-1964 (Classmark as at Jan 2009: 324.6230941 BIL)

* Commonsense on the population question / by Teresa Billington-Greig (Classmark as at Jan 2009: 304.6 BIL)

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Teresa Billington-Greig left her papers to the Fawcett Library on her death in 1964. Fiona Billington-Greig left additional papers to the Fawcett Library on her death in 1997.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue (partial)

Alternative Form Available

For catalogue details of the attached image see TWL.2002.17 in The Women's Library.

The Women's Library uses Mary Evans Picture Library (MEPL) to provide images from its collections, see

For a copy of the attached image please contact MEPL, quoting the MEPL image reference 10060814 or 10132245

Custodial History

Teresa Billington-Greig left her papers to the Fawcett Library after her death in 1964. Although some of her papers were catalogued at the time (7TBG/1), the majority (7TBG/2) had to wait for 20 years, with some unfortunate results. Various obviously extraneous items found their way into her papers, such as press cuttings from 1968 and 1972, and perhaps some less obvious ones too.

The undocumented removal of material has posed far greater problems. For example, a whole file (volume 9/25) of the Library's Autograph Letter Collection consists of biographical notes removed from 7TBG papers. There are also various items of her correspondence in the collection. Since the Autograph Letter Collection became so well established, and a microfiche edition of that collection been published, it has been judged impracticable to attempt to remove the 7TBG items. Likewise, annotated journals of hers which were integrated into the main library stock have been left in situ. Notes have been made at appropriate places in the Catalogue if journals are known to have been removed. Fragments of 7TBG's notes that had been inserted in the Library's Photograph Collection were retrieved, but listed in a section of their own. Further 7TBG papers are to be found in the Charlotte Despard papers, including material totally unrelated to Charlotte Despard.

The 7TBG papers have also suffered to some extent from a pulling out of context of certain choice items, and the creation of new subject files. Where this has clearly happened, it has been noted in the catalogue.

TBG was a great collector of potentially useful material (such as leaflets and press cuttings). She did not believe in wasting paper, and wrote notes on the backs of leaflets, envelopes, calendars, etc. It is obvious from her papers that she intended writing for publication on a great deal more than she actually did.

Bearing in mind the limitations posed by the difficulties noted above, TBG's own ordering of her papers has been honored. This results in a certain overlap of subject matter between sections (e.g. those interested in her thought on education need to look at the section of autobiographical writing as well as the section on education).

Abbreviations used:

FLB-G Frederick L Billington-Greig

ILP Independent Labour Party

M/c Manchester

MWA Married Women's Association

NUWSS National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies

NUWT National Union of Women Teachers

TBG Teresa Billington-Greig

WFL Women's Freedom League

WFW Women's for Westminster

WSPU Women's Social & Political Union

Margaret Sweet, Archivist 1984.

In 2009, papers of Teresa Billington-Greig bequeathed to the then Fawcett Library by her daughter Fiona in 1997, were catalogued and added to the 7TBG archive as series 7TBG/3.

Related Material

The Women's Library also hold the papers of the Women's Freedom League (ref. 2WFL); Records of the Women for Westminster Bournemouth Branch (5BWW); Records of the National Women Citizens Association (5NWC); the Six Point Group (ref. 5SPG); Records of the Women's Publicity Planning Association (5WPP); Records of the British Federation of Business & Professional Women (6BFB); Papers of Charlotte Despard (7CFD); Papers of Fiona Billington-Greig 7FBG; Papers of Olwen Campbell (7TBG); Autograph Letter Collection: Militant Suffragettes (9/20); Autograph Letter Collection: Biographical notes by Mrs Billington-Greig (9/25); oral history interviews in which Fiona Billington-Greig and Beatrice Blackman talk about Teresa Billington-Greig (8SUF/B/008, 8SUF/B/010, 8SUF/B/202) .