Famous as a bibliographer, librarian, and curator, Francis is particularly remembered for his longtime association with the British Museum in London, England. He became director of the museum in the late 1950s and was responsible for much of the institution's modernization.
After earning a degree in Classics from Liverpool University, he studied Greek philosophy at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University.
He pioneered the use of computers in cataloging libraries' holdings.
The only son of Elizabeth and Frank Francis, he was born and raised in Liverpool, England. His marriage to Katrina McClennon began in 1927 and produced three children.
He and nineteenth-century English poet Coventry Patmore were both employed by the British Museum.