Francis Kelly was born in St Paul Minnesota. He served with the United States Navy until 1948 when he entered the Art Centre School in Los Angeles. He studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris in 1951/52, after which he studied at the University of Hawaii followed by the University of California.
Awarded a Fulbright grant in 1955, he came to the Graphic Department of the Central School in London where he decided to take up residence. He and his family had a strong association with Devon which he visitsed whenever possible, and where the gentle countryside greatly inspired much of his work.
Exhibitions of his work have been held at twenty-four British Museums. He was called on by the Italian Art and Archives Fund to restore flood damaged paintings in Florence and he published two books, 'Art Restoration' and 'The Studio and the Artist'.
Kelly passed away in October 2012.