Sir William (Keith) Hancock was born on 26 June 1898 at Fitzroy, Melbourne. Hancock became a Victorian Rhodes Scholar in 1922 at Balliol College, Oxford (with first class honours in Modern History, MA). He was elected a Fellow of All Soul's College, Oxford in 1923. In 1924 Hancock was appointed Professor of Modern History at the University of Adelaide, arriving in 1926 and holding this position until 1933 when he moved to the University of Birmingham. In 1944 he was appointed Professor of Economic History at Oxford and in 1949 the first Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. From 1947 to 1949 Hancock served on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Australian National University and in October 1956 was appointed Director of the Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) and Professor of History. In 1961 he resigned as Director and continued as head of the History department until 1965. Sir Keith Hancock died in Canberra on 13 August 1988.