William Frank Ellis OBE was born in Hobart in 1928. After matriculating at the Friends School he studied physics at the University of Tasmania. He taught and did laboratory work there before moving to Launceston. In 1951 he was appointed as an anthropologist at the Queen Victoria Museum. In 1953 he became the Deputy Director and in 1955 the Director. He resigned from this position in February 1978 when he was appointed as Director of the West Australian Art Gallery. His next appointment, in August 1986, was as the Director of the Burnie Art Gallery. W F Ellis was affiliated with many museum organisations and was editor and contributor to anthropological and historical research.