John Meade Falkner was born in Wiltshire and spent much of his childhood in Dorchester and Weymouth. He was a student at Hertford College, Oxford and graduated with a degree in history in 1882. Falkner because a teacher before going into business and became chairman of Armstrong Whitworth Co., one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. After his retirement in 1921 he became Honorary Reader in Paleography at Durham University, as well as Honorary Librarian to the Dean and Chapter Library of Durham Cathedral. He lived in Divinity House, Durham, in front of the cathedral, until his death in 1902.