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Diana Sophy Craig (1912–1992)

by Margaret Park

This article was published:

Diana Sophy Craig (1912–1992), orthoptist, was born on 11 February 1912 at South Yarra, Melbourne, eldest of five children of South Australian-born (Sir) Frederick Wollaston Mann, barrister, and his Victorian-born wife Adeline Mary, née Raleigh. After being educated at home, Diana attended Clyde School (1926–29) at Woodend. She received an education focused on domestic science and the humanities and was dux of her form from 1926 to 1928. Desiring a career in science, she studied chemistry and physics at the Working Men’s College (1930), before enrolling at the University of Melbourne (BSc, 1934).

After graduation Mann worked as scientific secretary to the ophthalmologist Dr Ringland Anderson. She performed a variety of research tasks including drawing diagrams and preparing printed materials. She also acquired clinical skills in assessing binocular vision and undertaking visual field measurements. In 1937 she travelled to London and worked at the Central London Ophthalmic Hospital under the tutelage of Sheila Mayou, a practitioner in the allied health discipline of orthoptics, specialising in eye movement disorders and low vision care. After Mann’s return to Melbourne in early 1938, she was appointed as an orthoptist at the Alfred Hospital. There Anderson had established a clinic known as the ‘Sight Saving Class’ and introduced a course of study which, at that time, attracted mainly female students. In 1940 Mann was awarded a diploma by the Orthoptic Board of Australia (OBA) and soon after she established a practice in the city.

During World War II Mann worked with Dr Hugh Ryan at Royal Australian Air Force flying-training schools, examining and testing pilots’ vision. She was later described as a leader in treatment that assisted the RAAF by ‘salvaging borderline cases’ and helping those who ‘through fatigue, illness, or injury developed ocular muscle balance problems in the service’ (Daley 1970–71, 9). In 1942 she met with Emmie Russell and Mrs E. D’Ombrain of New South Wales, to share their experiences working with the RAAF and to discuss the possibility of forming a professional organisation. Their endeavours led to the establishment of the Orthoptic Association of Australia (OAA) in 1944. Mann was appointed to the position of secretary. In 1947 she began further study in psychology at the University of Melbourne. She believed that examining a patient’s mental as well as physical health would better provide for diagnosis and treatment. On 30 August 1952 in a Presbyterian ceremony at her South Yarra home, she married James Douglas Craig, who had been a fellow scholar studying psychology.

Diana was elected to three terms as president of the OAA (1948–49, 1954–55, and 1968–69). She was also a regular contributor to orthoptic and ophthalmology journals. Her articles, penned more as essays, ranged from the general role of the orthoptist to the detailed technical issues facing the profession and its patients. She was dedicated to improving the practice of orthoptics, defining its technical terms and encouraging ongoing education and training. From 1958 to 1960 she edited the association’s Transactions newsletter and later its journal (1973–82). For many years she served on the examination sub-committee of the OBA and she lectured at the Victorian School of Orthoptics, (Royal) Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She wrote on the need to foster productive relationships between orthoptists and other medical professionals working within an ophthalmic team. In the mid-1970s she joined the practice of four ophthalmologists.

Over the years Diana and Jim hosted many Victorian branch functions at their Ivanhoe home; reports of these events recorded their love of Eastern art and culture, and of gardens. In 1982 she retired from clinical work and the next year she was presented with the OAA’s inaugural Mary Wesson award for her contribution to the profession. Predeceased by her husband, she succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease on 7 February 1992 at Alphington, having donated her body to the Department of Anatomy at the University of Melbourne. In 1993 the OAA named one of its student achievement awards the Diana Craig prize.

Research edited by Nicole McLennan

Select Bibliography

  • Collins, Leonie. ‘Presidential Address.’ Australian Orthoptic Journal 6 (1964): 4–6
  • Daley, Air Vice-Marshal. ‘Orthoptists and the Royal Australian Air Force.’ Australian Orthoptic Journal 11 (1970–71): 8–10
  • Green, Julie. ‘Obituary: Diana Sophie Craig (nee Mann) 1912–1992.’ Australian Orthoptic Journal 28 (1992): 51–52
  • Lance, Patricia. ‘Orthoptics: Past, Present, and Future.’ Australian Orthoptic Journal 13 (1973–74): 2–7
  • Orthoptic Association of Australia. Transactions of the Orthoptic Association of Australia. 19441958. Nos. 1–5. [Sydney]: The Association, 1972

Additional Resources

Citation details

Margaret Park, 'Craig, Diana Sophy (1912–1992)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2016, accessed online 23 February 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Mann, Diana

11 February, 1912
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


7 February, 1992 (aged 79)
Alphington, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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