Open main menu

Jill Craigie (7 March 1911[1] – 13 December 1999) was an English documentary film director, screenwriter and feminist. She married the Labour Party politician Michael Foot (1913–2010), whom she met during the making of her film The Way We Live.

Jill Craigie
Born(1911-03-07)7 March 1911
Died13 December 1999(1999-12-13) (aged 88)
Hampstead, London, UK
OccupationDocumentary film director, screenwriter and feminist



Born Noreen Jean Craigie[1][2] to a Russian mother and a Scottish father in Fulham, London, Craigie started her career in film as an actress.

She became politicised because of the events of the 1930s and she turned to filmmaking. Her films depicted her socialist leanings and dealt with left-wing topics such as child refugees, working conditions for miners, and gender equality. After directing five films and writing two others, Craigie retired from the film business for almost forty years, returning to make a single film for BBC television.[3]

Craigie was one of the scriptwriters of Trouble in Store, Norman Wisdom's film debut, which screened in December 1953. The film broke box office records at 51 out of the 67 London cinemas in which it played.[4] After writing the first draft of the script, Craigie reportedly asked that her name be removed from the credits after learning of Wisdom's participation.[5]

In latter years Craigie became an authority on the suffragette movement, holding a large collection of feminist literature in Britain, with pamphlets dating back to John Stuart Mill.

Craigie had a daughter, Julie, from her first marriage.[1] She and Michael Foot had no children together, but enjoyed family life with Julie and, later, her four children.[citation needed] They lived in a flat in Hampstead, north London, and in a cottage in Ebbw Vale.[citation needed]

In 1998, a biography of the late Hungarian-born writer Arthur Koestler by David Cesarani alleged Koestler had been a serial rapist and that Craigie had been one of his victims in 1951. Craigie confirmed the allegations.[6] In his biography, Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual (2009), Michael Scammell countered that Craigie was the only woman to go on record that she had been raped by Koestler, and had done so at a dinner party more than fifty years after the event. Claims that Koestler had been violent were added by Craigie later, although Scammell concedes that Koestler could be rough and sexually aggressive.

Craigie died in 1999 of heart failure at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London.



  • Craigie, Jill (1997). "Political Blood Sport". In Goodman, Geoffrey (ed.). The State of the Nation: The Political Legacy of Aneurin Bevan. London: Gollancz. pp. 88–105. ISBN 0-575-06308-4.

Further readingEdit

  • Macnab, Geoffrey (1993). J. Arthur Rank and the British Film Industry. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07272-7.


  1. ^ a b c Rollyson, Carl (2005). To Be a Woman: The Life of Jill Craigie. Aurum Press. p. 6. ISBN 1-85410-935-9.
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  3. ^ Easen, Sarah. "Craigie, Jill". British Film Institute.
  4. ^ Family Britain 1951-1957 by David Kynaston, Bloomsbury, 2009 p353 ISBN 978-1-4088-0083-6
  5. ^ Tom Vallance Obituary:Jill Craigie, The Independent, 15 December 1999
  6. ^ "Women force removal of Koestler bust". BBC. 29 December 1998. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  • Enticknap, Leo (1999). The Non-Fiction Film in Britain, 1945-51 (unpublished PhD thesis). University of Exeter.


The archives of Jill Craigie are held at The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics, ref 7JCC

External linksEdit