Cicely Williams studied for a medical degree at Oxford, after which she undertook three years’ medical training at King’s College Hospital.
In 1928, Williams studied for a diploma at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine then joined the colonial medical service in Ghana. Here, she specialised in paediatrics, working to eliminate deficiencies in children’s diets. In the mid-1930s, she worked as a paediatrician in Singapore, where she campaigned for mothers to breastfeed their children.
During the Second World War, in 1942, disaster struck when Cicely was interned by the Japanese, where she suffered many hardships. After the war, in 1948, Williams became the first head of the maternal and child health section of the newly-formed World Health Organisation in Geneva.
Williams returned to the University of London as a senior lecturer in nutrition in 1953, and was later elected an honorary fellow of King’s College Hospital Medical School.