McGlew (Cilento) was born on 13 March 1894 at Rockdale, to Charles Thomas McGlew, shipbroker and coal merchant, and his wife Alice Lane, née Walker. Dr McGlew qualified in medicine at the University of Adelaide (MB, BS, 1918). At the University, she met Raphael West (Ray) Cilento (1893-1985). They became engaged in 1918, and married, in 1920, after McGlew worked as a clinical clerk at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, and attended the Marylebone Medical Mission Dispensary.
Both Cilentos travelled extensively before they settled in Queensland, together and separately. In 1922 Cilento joined her husband in Townsville, where they stayed for a short duration, and then they moved to Rabaul, Mandated Territory of New Guinea, where she worked in private practice (1924-1927). In 1928 the Cilentos settled in Annerley, Brisbane. From that point onwards, the Cilento family became a Queensland institution. Sir Ray Cilento had a distinguished international service in tropical medicine, and although it was not adequately acknowledged in Australia with an appointment in his latter career, he became an important political and cultural figure for Queensland (entry in this project is pending). Cilento’s children would also make significant marks on Queensland society, four became medical doctors, one a noted artist, Margaret Cilento, and her youngest daughter, Diane Cilento was the noted Australian-British actress, well-known as the spouse to Sean Connery (m. 1962-1973), and mother of actor Jason Connery.
Cilento (Phyllis) divided her time between the Hospital for Sick Children as a physician to out-patients (1931-1933), and to inpatients (1935-1938), and as a general practitioner, with an active obstetric practice, at a surgery attached to her Annerley home. When Ray Cilento was knighted in 1935, she became known as Lady Cilento. From 1939 to 1946 and 1952 to 1962, Lady Cilento was the Specialist Lecturer in Mothercraft at the University of Queensland. In 1964 Cilento sold her Annerley practice, and the family moved to Toowong in 1967, although she continued to see patients until the early 1980s.
Her contribution to welfare and community medicine in Queensland was extra-ordinary. In 1929 Cilento was the Inaugural President of the Queensland Medical Women’s Society. In 1931 she founded the Mothercraft Association of Queensland, and served as its President until 1946. Cilento was a member of the inaugural Council of the Family Planning Association of Queensland, and also a member of the Crèche & Kindergarten Association of Queensland.
Cilento was author of twenty-four books and monographs, including her first book, Square Meals for the Family (1933), The Cilento Way (1984), and her autobiography, Lady Cilento M.B. B.S.: My Life (1987).
See Phyllis Cilento on Scatterplot Matrix.
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-phyllis-dorothy-12318/text22127, published in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 19 September 2014.
Mark Finnane, 'Cilento, Sir Raphael West (Ray) (1893–1985)', 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 in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 26 September 2014.
Phyllis Cilento (1894–1987)
Theorist in Maternal Health and Childcare