He was educated at Christ's Hospital and Keble College, Oxford. He was Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Balliol College, Oxford, from 1939 to 1970. During World War II he worked at the Ministry of Supply in the timber section. Meiggs served as Prefect of the College from 1945 until 1969. His eccentricity was legendary. His papers are in the Balliol College library.
He met his future wife, the historian Pauline Gregg (1909-2006), at the Ministry of Supply; the couple married in 1941.
He was a periodic visiting professor in the Classics Department at Swarthmore College in the 1970s, where he taught (among other classes) Greece in the Fifth Century (BCE) and Roman Ostia. See Dover in reference 2, below.
- The Athenian Empire (1972)
- Roman Ostia (1960; 2nd ed. 1973)
- (with J. B. Bury) A history of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great (1978) multiple editions.
- Trees and timber in the ancient Mediterranean world (1982).
- ed. A Selection of Greek historical inscriptions to the end of the fifth century B.C. (1988).
- A. Gallina Zevi, ed. 'Roman Ostia' revisited : archaeological and historical papers in memory of Russell Meiggs (1996)
- [Obituary] Jasper Griffin in The Independent 27 June 1989; Oswyn Murray in The Guardian 28 June 1989.
- [Biography] Kenneth Dover in Proceedings of the British Academy 80 (1991) 361-70.
- Obituary by Glen Bowersock "Obituary: Russell Meiggs", In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 135 (1991), 473-77.
- Portrait by Michael Noakes in the collection of Balliol College, Oxford 
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