Mabel Wagnalls, only child of Adam and Anna Wagnalls, was born in Kansas City, Missouri on April 20, 1869. She was educated at home by her parents. At the age of fourteen, Miss Wagnalls' mother took her to Europe to study piano. She received instruction in Paris, Vienna and under the noted Franz Kullak in Berlin, where in 1889 she made her debut as a concert pianist. On January 11, 1891, she made her American debut in New York City with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra. She toured the United States after her debut, but frail health and a strenuous tour schedule forced her to give up the concert stage.
As a young girl, Miss Wagnalls was also encouraged by her mother to develop her writing skills. After giving up her music career, she authored many books, among them being, Misere, Stars of the Opera, The Palace of Danger, Rosebush of a Thousand Years, Light in the Valley (a biography of her mother) and The Mad Song. As a direct result of her literary career, she became a close friend of William Sidney Porter, better known as "O. Henry". Miss Wagnalls was also a close friend of many great literary, musical and stage personalities of the 1900's such as Oley Speaks, Houdini and Edwin Markham.
In 1920, Miss Wagnalls married Richard J. Jones, at one time a law professor at Yale University. Later, he entered the steel business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and held a position with Pittsburgh Steel Corporation until his retirement in 1920. The Jones's established a home in Northport, Long Island where Richard Jones died in 1929.
Mabel Wagnalls Jones dies March 22, 1946 in New York City at the age of 77.