Staff was born in Lwów (then in the Austrian partition. Now Lviv, Ukraine) during the military partitions of Poland. He was one of three children of the local confectioner of Czechoslovakian origin.
He studied law and philosophy at the Lwów University, and in 1918 settled in Warsaw at the cusp of Poland"s return to independence.
Staff was highly influential in the interwar period, including in the literary life of Julian Tuwim, one of Poland"s best-known poets. He served as vice-president of the Polish Academy of Literature since 1933, and since 1949 resided in Warsaw.
Staff"s writing can be divided into three periods: Young Poland until 1918, Interwar period (1918-1939), and postwar Poland (following the end of World World War II). In the early 20th century, Staff became probably the most famous and influential Polish poet.
He called his popularity a retiring, soft glory.
He was also the main role-model for Polish group of experimental poets named Skamander (founded in 1918). In the 1950s, he moved to blank verse in line with the ideals of Polish avant-garde. Some of his best-known short poems include The Bridge ("Most"), Foundations ("Podwaliny", transl by Czesław Miłosz), and Three Towns ("Trzy miasta", 1954).