Władysław Konopczyński was born on 26 November 1880 in Warsaw as a son of Ignacy and Ludwika. He was baptised as Władysław Aleksander. His godsparents were Zofia Strumiłło and Aleksander Konopczyński.
Konopczyński was a student of Polish historian Szymon Askenazy. He became a professor at Kraków's Jagiellonian University (1917) and a member of the Warsaw Scientific Society (Towarzystwo Naukowe Warszawskie) and the Polish Academy of Learning (Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1922).
He was a polyglot who knew 14 languages.
Konopczyński's chief interests were Polish parliamentary history, 17th- and 18th-century Polish politics and political thought, and the Bar Confederation. He wrote histories of Poland and of the modern world. In his own time, he participated as a member of the Polish delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 and as a representative of Popular National Union in the Sejm between 1922 and 1927 during the Second Polish Republic. He argued for the recognition of the role of Roman Dmowski in the fight for Polish independence.
In 1931, he founded Polski słownik biograficzny (The Polish Biographical Dictionary) and served as its first editor, seeing seven volumes through press, 1935–1949, before being forced by Poland's postwar communist government to resign his editorship. Many of his former and contemporary students also contributed to this work, including Emanuel Rostworowski, Władysław Czapliński, Józef Feldman, and Józef Andrzej Gierowski.
During World War II, Konoczyński survived German imprisonment at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Released in February 1940, he returned to Kraków where he continued to teach history secretly, rebuking those who claimed that the circumstances of the war kept them from their studies.
After the war, he was removed from all his academic and scholarly posts by Poland's communist government.
His chief works included:
- Polska w dobie wojny siedmioletniej (Poland during the Seven Years' War, 1909–11);
- Liberum veto (1918);
- Dzieje Polski nowożytnej (History of Modern Poland, 2 vols., 1936);
- Konfederacja barska (The Bar Confederation, 1936–38);
- Kwestia bałtycka do XIX wieku (The Baltic Question to the 19th Century, 1947).
- Fryderyk Wielki a Polska (Frederick the Great and Poland) (1947, republished in 2010)
- Polska a Szwecja (Poland and Sweden) (1924)
- Polska a Turcja 1683-1792 (Poland and Turkey 1683-1792) (1936)
- Anglia a Polska w XVIII wieku (England and Poland in the 18th century)(1947)
- Encyklopedia Polski, p. 305.
- Encyklopedia powszechna PWN, vol. 2, p. 539.
- P. Biliński, Władysław Konopczyński w kręgu naukowym i rodzinnym. In: Władysław Konopczyński 1880–1952. Materiały z posiedzenia naukowego PAU w dniu 21 czerwca 2002 r., zebrał i opracował J. A. Gierowski, Kraków 2005, p. 85.
- Encyklopedia Polski, p. 305
- Biliński, Piotr (1999). Władysław Konopczyński: historyk i polityk II Rzeczypospolitej (1880-1952). Warszawa. p. 25.
- Romer, Eugeniusz. Pamiętnik Paryski 1918-1919.
- Konopczyński, Władysław. "O Miejscu dla Dmowskiego w Historii".
- (ed.) Prosińska-Jackl, Maria. Słownik historyków polskich.
- Rostworowski, Emanuel. Afterward to "Fryderyk Wielki a Polska".
- "Konopczyński, Władysław," Encyklopedia Polski, Kraków, Wydawnictwo Ryszard Kluszczyński, 1996, p. 305.
- "Konopczyński, Władysław," Encyklopedia powszechna PWN (PWN Universal Encyclopedia), vol. 2, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1974, p. 539.