In 1916, Goffin completed his humanities study at the Athenaeum of Saint-Gilles where Paul Delvaux was his classmate.
Two years later, he published his first collection of poetry, Rosaire des soirs (Evening Rosary), while he was studying law at the Free University of Brussels (now split into the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). During this period, his focus shifted to the new American art form, jazz, and in 1932 he published what is considered the first serious book on the new genre, Aux Frontières du Jazz. He was active in the Belgian resistance against the nazis, whose invasion of his country he predicted twelve months in advance, creating in 1939 the magazine Alert, in which he advocated the abandonment of the Belgian neutrality for an alliance with France.
He had harsh polemics with Belgian fascist Léon Degrelle.
He left Belgium for the United States at the outset during World World War II, supporting himself through lectures and writing, including essays such as Jazz: from the Congo to the Metropolitan, and novels set in German-occupied Belgium, including Louisiana colombe de la Gestapo ("the dove of the Gestapo") and The White Brigade (published in French as Passeports pour l"Audelà). In 1942, he collaborated with Leonard Feather to teach what is considered the first course ever on jazz history and analysis, held at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
After the war, he returned to Belgium to again take up his legal activities at the Court of Appeal of Brussels. In 1952, he joined the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature, becoming director in 1971, and director of the Belgian Pen Club in 1956.
Académie royale de langue et de littérature françaises de Belgique.