Arthur Shilston qualified as a veterinarian (MRCVS) at the Royal Veterinary College, London, in 1908. The next year he came to South Africa where he served from August 1909 as assistant government bacteriologist of Natal under H. Watkins-Pitchford* at the Allerton laboratory near Pietermaritzburg. In April 1912 he was appointed veterinary research officer in the newly formed Veterinary Department of the Union of South Africa, and that same year took over from Watkins-Pitchford as head of the Allerton laboratory. During his stay at Allerton he worked on trypanosomiasis in Zululand and on sheep scab. On the first of these topics he published "Notes on Zululand trypanosomes" in the Second Report of the Director of Veterinary Research (1912, pp. 345-361).He served as honorary secretary and treasurer of the Natal Veterinary Medical Association from June 1911 to December 1913.
On 3 January 1914 Shilston left South Africa to visit England before taking up an appointment as assistant bacteriologist at the Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory at Muktsar, Punjab, India. During 1915-1916 he acted as Imperial bacteriologist. His work on rinderpest at Muktsar led to two publications: Rinderpest. Preparation of anti-serum (Calcutta, 1916, 18p) and The vitality of the rinderpest virus outside the animal body under natural conditions (Calcutta, 1917, 31p). He died at Muktsar from glanders in 1919 while investigating an outbreak of the disease.