He was the son of the journalist and publisher Wilfrid Meynell and the poet Alice Meynell, a suffragist and prominent Roman Catholic convert. Francis Meynell was brought in by George Lansbury to be business manager of the Daily Herald in 1913. He was held in the guard room at Hounslow Barracks as a conscientious objector in World War I. Meynell was also a socialist who supported the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. His fusion of progressive politics and conservative aesthetic tastes, similar to those of William Morris) caused some amusement amongst his friends; the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science notes that "he once set a left-wing propaganda pamphlet in Cloister Old Face and surrounded it with a border of 17th-century fleurons."
He was knighted in 1946. He married Alix Kilroy (1903–1999), a civil servant with the Board of Trade. They worked together during World War II on Utility Design, an austere and functional style. After the war they lived and farmed in a secluded part of Suffolk for many years. Their union was childless.
- Sir Francis Meynell (1971) My Lives
- Dame Alix Meynell (1988) Public Servant, Private Woman: An Autobiography
- John Shepherd, George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour (2004), p. 146
- Katharine Bail Hoskins, Today the Struggle: Literature and Politics in England during the Spanish Civil War. University of Texas Press, 1969, pg. 18.
- Dearden, James (1 February 1977). Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science: Volume 20 - Nigeria: Libraries in to Oregon State University Library. CRC Press. pp. 91–100. ISBN 978-0-8247-2020-9.
-  Profile of Sir Francis Meynell
-  Biography at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required)
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