William Edward Hanley Stanner was born in Sydney in 1905. Stanner helped to shape the growth of Australian anthropology, and his principal interest was the peoples of Daly River and Port Keats in the Northern Territory.
Until the end of his life, he devoted a great deal of time to securing recognition of Aboriginal rights to land. He was a member of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and, in 1968, he was the ABC's Boyer Lecturer. He was a founding member of the Aboriginal Treaty Committee. He was appointed to the chair of anthropology at the Australian National University and served as head of the department of anthropology and sociology until his retirement in 1970. He died in 1981.