Papers of Teresa Billington-Greig

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains two accessions to the Women's library. The first contains materials arranged into several thematic strands. These consisting of autobiographical writings, historical writings on the campaign for women's suffrage, feminist and other societies, the post-suffrage campaign period, other activities and campaigns, general correspondence, articles and synopses, the status of women, the Royal Commission on marriage and divorce, sex and prostitution, relations between the sexes, equal pay, women workers, children, women's education, religion, women and the world wars, the consumer, photographs and their separated supporting materials, general press cuttings and journals and books. These areas contain a range of formats including notes, draft speeches, press cuttings, leaflets, papers, letters, printed leaflets; newspapers, pamphlets, draft speeches, journals, photographs, draft articles, leaflets, memoranda and books. The second accession 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 TB-G'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 TB-G related to Charlotte Despard including notes, a draft memoir and essays, list of interview questions and replies, pamphlets by Despard, correspondence and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Teresa Billington-Greig was born in Preston in 1877 and brought up in Blackburn in a family of catholic drapers. After leaving home and despite having no qualifications, she began work as a teacher at a Roman Catholic school in Manchester until her own agnosticism made this impossible. From there she 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, and that same year she became a member of the Independent Labour Party.

In April 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 and Political Union and became one of their travelling speakers. 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 June of 1906, Billington was arrested in an affray outside of Asquith's home and later sentenced to a fine or two months in Holloway. An anonymous reader of the Daily Mirror paid the fine. In June of that same year, she was sent to organise the WSPU in Scotland and it was here that she married Frederick Lewis Greig the following year. However, growing differences with the Pankhursts led to her resignation as a paid organiser, though she remained in the group as a member until October. It was then, on the occasion of the Pankhursts' unilateral rewriting of the body's constitution, that she left the group along with Charlotte Despard to form the Women's Freedom League on the basis of organisational democracy. However, she once more resigned in 1910 when the WFL undertook a new campaign of militancy after the defeat of the Conciliation Bill.

After 1907, she was unwilling to join other organisations and devoted her time to her daughter (born in 1915) and 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 (1947-51) and after 1958 she was a member of the Six Point Group while writing her account of the Suffrage Movement. She died in 1964.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation. Intending readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Billington-Greig left her papers to the Fawcett library on her death in 1964.

Other Finding Aids

Handlist.

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the papers of the Women's Freedom League (ref. GB 106 2/WFL) and the Six Point Group (ref. GB 106 5/SPG).