Willis Knapp Jones was born on November 26, 1895, in Beacon, New York, the son of Plato Tydvil and Louise (Knapp) Jones. He received his AB from Hamilton College in 1917. He received his MA from Pennsylvania State University in 1922. In 1927 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He taught at Penn State as instructor in Spanish (1920-1923), University of Miami, Oxford, Ohio, as associate professor (1923-1928), and professor of Romance languages (1928-1963). As a student and later as a professor he travelled and taught in Santiago, Chile (1917-1919), in Montevideo, Uruguay (1919-1920), American University of Shrivenham, England (1945) and at the University of Guayaquil, Ecuador, a Lecturer on Latin American drama and culture (1946-1947). Upon his retirement in 1963 he sold his library of Latin American theatrical works to the University of Houston. He died in March 1982, in Oxford, Ohio.
Dr. Jones was a true pioneer in the study of Latin American literature bringing Spanish texts and translation to American readers by the way of his research and publications of books, journals, and newspapers.