Ernest Osborne Tancock (1886–1971) was born in Norwich, England, and educated at Tonbridge School and Cambridge University. He was a master at Giggleswick School in Yorkshire and then served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during World War I. In 1918 he was appointed a master at Wellington College, Berkshire, and from 1928 to 1946 he was a housemaster. He had a lifelong interest in astronomy and was in charge of the school observatory. He joined the British Astronomical Association in 1910 and was secretary of its Education Committee for many years. He was also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. In his retirement he lived in Oxford.

Tancock was the author of Elements of Descriptive Astronomy (1913), which was rewritten as Starting Astronomy (1951), and the editor of Philip’s Chart of the Stars (first issued in 1940).


The Tancock Collection was purchased in 1972 from the booksellers Barnard and Phelps of Uxbridge, England.


Printed Materials

The collection contains about 300 books and pamphlets, mostly published in Britain. The majority of the works relate to astronomy, but there are also some works on geology, physics and chemistry. There are no great rarities in the collection. Among the authors represented in the collection are Sir David Brewster, Albert Einstein, Sir John Herschel, H. Spencer Jones, Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir Charles Lyell, E.W. Maunder, Percy Molesworth, George Seabroke and H.B. Woodward.

There are also several serials, the most substantial being the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 1933–68 (incomplete).

Personal Papers

The small group of personal papers, extending from 1914 to 1968, include notebooks, a diary, letters, photographs, newspaper cuttings and printed ephemera. There is also a minute book that Tancock kept as secretary of the Education Committee of the British Astronomical Association. Some of the letters from George Philip & Son refer to the design by Tancock and K.N. Munro of the ‘Astroglobe’, which revealed the approximate position of a star or constellation at a particular date or place.


The books, pamphlets and serials have been catalogued individually and integrated in the general collection. The personal paper are held in the Manuscripts Collection at MS 4690.


Beet, E.A., Obituary of E.O. Tancock, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, vol. 82, 1972, p. 213.