Ray Cilento (Brisbane City)

Ray Cilento (Brisbane City)

Name: Ray Cilento (Brisbane City)

Epoch: Early 20th Century (the \'Long Early Twentieth Century\')

Grouping Field: Humanities (Ideas Formatted as Ideas) and Social Science (Models)

Location Grouping: Individual\'s Residential Location

Map Coordinates: 27°28\'23.1\"S 153°01\'33.3\"E

Years At Location: 1928-1964

One Historical Setting: Sir (Hon. Prof.) Raphael West (Ray) Cilento, State Director-General of Health and Medical Services, Brisbane City [TBA] (1934)

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Raphael and Phyllis Cilento arrived in Brisbane in 1928, when Raphael, or more commonly called ‘Ray’, became the Queensland Director of Tropical Hygiene and Chief Quarantine Officer. By this time Ray Cilento had already established a noteworthy career in medical research in Rabaul, New Guinea, at the Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine, Townsville, and the London School of Tropical Medicine (DTM&H, 1922), where he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Ray Cilento became the first State Director-General of Health and Medical Services in Queensland in 1934, and was involved in the the Queensland Institute of Medical Research establishment in 1945. Already knighted in 1935, Cilento’s reputation grew nationally and internationally. He was an active member on the National Health and Medical Research Council. He had appointments in the United Nations Secretariat after World War II, as the head of the division of refugees (1946) and director of social affairs (1949). The Cliento settled in Annerley but moved to Toowong.

Impact On Brisbane Society

Unfortunately, Ray Cilento’s role in Queensland political history is both troubling and confusing. Although having a reputation for improving public health in Queensland, his strong and contradictory socio-political beliefs were influencial even as they were not very well thought-out. Queensland historians have judged his literary works, such as they were, very poorly: The White Man in the Tropics (1925), and his unfortunately celebrated history of Queensland, Triumph in the Tropics (1959), written with Clem Lack.

Phyllis Cilento’s reputation in history stands above her husband. For half a century, from 1928 to 1984, Phyllis Cilento was Queensland leading health writer. Cilento was a local general medical practitioner in Annerley (See entry on Phyllis Cilento).


Mark Finnane, ‘Cilento, Sir Raphael West (Ray) (1893–1985)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University; and Mary D. Mahoney, ‘Cilento, Phyllis Dorothy (1894–1987)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography; National Centre of Biography, Australian National University; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cilento-sir-raphael-west-ray-12319/text22129, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 3 November 2017. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP).

Fisher, Fedora Gould. Raphael Cilento: a Biography, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 1994.

Ginn, Geoffrey AC. ‘Cilento’s Centenary: The Triumph of His Topics’, Queensland Review, vol. 16, no. 2, 2009, pp. 57-72.

Gregory, Helen. Vivant Professores: Distinguished Members of the University of Queensland, 1910-1940, University of Queensland Library, St. Lucia Qld, 1987.

Thomis, Malcolm I. A Place of Light & Learning: the University of Queensland’s first seventy-five years, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Qld, 1985.

Image Citation

Photo of Sir Raphael Cilento, December 1940, [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RCilento_Dec1940.jpg#/media/File:RCilento_Dec1940.jpg]