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Edward Walter Maunder and Annie Scott Dill Maunder: papers, 1877 - 2008

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 205

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of the Maunders' published works both on their research and explanatory works on astronomy for a more popular audience. Some of these publications bear annotations. There are also some notes on a variety of subjects, a pin-hole camera, a planisphere and some items of correspondence. There is supporting material in the form of obituaries, letters of condolence and subsequent published works on the Maunders and their work.


  • Creation: 1877 - 2008


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Edward Walter Maunder was born in St Pancras, London, on 12 April 1851. He was educated at University College School, London and later at King's College, London where he attended science classes. His career began in banking but he quickly moved to work for the Royal Greenwich Observatory having passed civil service examinations in 1873. His post there was newly created; he became the first photographic and spectroscopic assistant, and held responsibility for the solar department. Maunder's analytical work from solar observations was chiefly related to sunspots. In 1904, after several decades of close study of sunspots, he was able to demonstrate latitude drift of sunspots during the sunspot cycle with a well known butterfly diagram. In the same year he proved a correlation between geomagnetic disturbances and significant developing sunspots on the surface of the sun. He is credited with the identification the eponymous 'Maunder Minimum' (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) which refers to the period 1645-1715 when there was a dearth of sunspots. The long term importance of this theory became apparent through J.A. Eddy's landmark work on solar fluctuation of 1975. Maunder's other work in conjunction with William Christie was in the field of spectroscopy where they measured visually stellar radial velocities. Maunder's work was partly so well known because of his active membership of both professional and amateur astronomical societies. He was elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1875 later serving on council, as secretary, and as vice-president. In 1890 he founded the British Astronomical Association serving at various stages as president and editor. At both he was a regular speaker, as he was at the Victoria Institute, otherwise known as the Philosophical Society of Great Britain. Similarly he gained recognition through a considerable published output aimed at both academic and popular audiences. Copies of both types of work are extant in this collection along with works in which he combined his considerable astronomical and biblical scholarship. The entwined nature of his private and professional work is revealed the expeditions he led to view solar eclipses which were sometimes under the auspices of societies (1896, 1898, 1900, 1905) and sometimes for the Observatory (1886, 1901). Maunder retired in 1913 but, along with his second wife, briefly resumed his duties during the First World War when staff shortages threatened to break the continuity of observation. He died on 21 March 1928 aged 76. He was survived by his wife of 33 years Annie Scott Dill Maunder (née Russell), and three sons and two daughters from his first marriage to Edith Hannah (née Bustin) who had died in 1888. Annie Scott Dill Maunder (née Russell) was born 14 April 1868 in Strabane, co. Tyrone. She was initially home educated but later attended Ladies' Collegiate School (later Victoria College), Belfast. In 1886 she gained a scholarship to Girton College, Cambridge where she took part one of the mathematical tripos with second-class honours. She began her career as a mathematics teacher, but she rapidly moved to the Royal Greenwich Observatory where in September 1891 she took a post as a 'lady computer' in the Solar Department run by Maunder. She resigned her post four years later just prior to her marriage to Maunder. Mrs Maunder continued her astronomical work in an amateur capacity focusing particularly on solar coronal streamers, accompanying Maunder on eclipse expeditions and writing a volume entitled the 'Heavens and their Story' which was published under the Maunder's joint name. Their collaboration is also evident in E.W. Maunder's work on the sunspot cycles. In 1907 she produced a catalogue of 600 recurrent sunspot groups based on Greenwich observations. Like her husband she was an active member and speaker at a number of learned societies particularly acting as editor and in other capacities for the British Astronomical Association. Once the Royal Astronomical Society extended its membership to women in 1915 she was made a fellow although a paper written by her had been communicated to the RAS by Sir William H M Christie on her behalf some eight years previously. In later years A.S.D. Maunder's research was redirected towards ancient astronomies and she was regarded an authority in the field. She died on 15 September 1947 aged 80 in Wandsworth, London. She was survived by her step-children.


3 archive box(es) (3 boxes) : paper; metal; glass; wood; photograph

1 item(s) (1 loose item)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the material was donated by Mr Philip Andrew Maunder on 29 April 2010. A further donation was made by his daughter, Dorrie Giles in November 2016 (items catalogued at RGO 205/2/3b, RGO 205/4/1-5, RGO 205/6/A/4b, RGO 205/6/A/7b, RGO 205/6/A/12b, RGO 205/6/A/13b, RGO 205/6/B/4b, RGO 205/6/D/1, RGO 205/6/D/3a, RGO 205/9/4). The item catalogued at RGO 205/2/5b was donated by Andrew Maunder on 9 May 2019. The instruments at RGO 205/3/1-2 were permanently transferred from CUL to the National Maritime Museum on 2nd October 2019.


Item RGO 205/6/D/4a remains with members of the Maunder family and may be donated at a later stage.

Related Materials

Related material may be found in the form of correspondence, memoranda and other items produced by Maunder through his work for the Royal Observatory, Greenwich within the papers of William Christie (RGO 7). Particular attention is drawn to items: 8, 37, 201, 203 and 267.

Related Materials

There are two associated collections of Maunder's correspondence in the Royal Astronomical Society Library; MSS Molesworth are letters to Percy Molesworth and RAS letters are letters to the Society.


The online catalogue for Janus was compiled in May 2011 by Zoe A. Rees, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. Additions were made by Dr Emma Saunders in December 2016, May 2019 and Oct. 2019. Items RGO 205/3/1-2 permanently transferred to the National Maritime Museum on 2nd October 2019.

Date information

DateText: predominantly 1900-1935.


Maunder, Edward Walter; Maunder, Annie Scott Dill; Maunder and Giles family

Finding aid date

2011-05-20 09:43:06+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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