Carlell's ancestry was Scottish. He was the son of Herbert Carlell of Bridekirk in Dumfriesshire, and the third of four brothers. He was not educated at university, though he did produce translations from French and Spanish during his lifetime; he probably had the informal though not always contemptible education of a courtier, which he was from about the age of 15.
In his extra-literary life, Carlell was a courtier and royal functionary; he held the offices of Gentleman of the Bows to King Charles I, and Groom to the King and Queen's Privy Chamber. He was also Keeper of the Great Forest at Richmond Park. In the latter post, he assisted the King in his frequent hunts, and throughout the 1630s he lived in the Park at Petersham Lodge. In this same period he accomplished most of his dramatic authorship — and his plays are notable for their forest scenes.
He maintained his post at Richmond Park throughout the English Civil War, down to 1649. In this period he may have acted as a sort of undercover agent for the Royalist cause; he is thought to have sheltered Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle during this time. During the English Interregnum he is thought to have remained Keeper of both Richmond Park and St. James's Park.
His extant plays are: The Deserving Favourite (1629), The Fool Who Would be a Favourite (circa 1637) or The Discreet Lover (his most popular play), Osmond the Great Turk, or The Noble Servant (1638), Arviragus and Philicia, parts 1 and 2 (1639), The Passionate Lovers, Parts 1 and 2 (1655), and Heraclius, Emperor of the East (1664), the last a translation of the 1647 play by Pierre Corneille.
Some critics have judged his plays to be significant in the evolution of serious drama in the 17th century, from the tragedy and tragicomedy of John Fletcher and his collaborators to the "heroic drama" of the Restoration era. In this view, Carlell is "one of the chief intermediaries between Beaumont and Fletcher, and Dryden and Settle".
The couple had accommodation at Petersham Lodge. They moved to Covent Garden in 1654 but returned to Petersham two years later. They had two children, James (who was married to Ellen) and Penelope (married to John Fisher, a lawyer of the Middle Temple).
Carlell continued in royal service into the Restoration period. On 6 June 1664, a warrant was issued to pay him £150, three years' back pay as Keeper of His Majesty's house and walk at Petersham in Richmond Park.
- David McDowall (1996). Richmond Park: The Walker's Historical Guide. David McDowall. p. 47.
- Margaret Toynbee and Giles Isham, "Lodowick Carlell," Notes and Queries 2 (1955), p. 204.
- Darryll Grantley (2013). Historical Dictionary of British Theatre: Early Period. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press Ltd. p. 81. ISBN 978 0 8108 6762 8.
- Allardyce Nicoll, quoted in Logan and Smith, p. 229.
- Cathy Hartley (2005). A Historical Dictionary of British Women. Europa. p. 166. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- Margaret Toynbee and Gyles Isham (September 1954). "Joan Carlile (1606?-1679): An Identification". The Burlington Magazine 96 (618). Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Arianne Burnette (2004; online edition, September 2010). "Joan Carlile". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Charles H Gray (1905). "Lodowick Carliell; his life, a discussion of his plays, and The deserving favourite, a tragi-comedy reprinted from the original edition of 1629". University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Gray, Charles Henry. Lodowick Carlell: His Life, A Discussion of His Plays, and "The Deserving Favorite". Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1905.
- Harbage, Alfred. Cavalier Drama. New York, Modern Language Association of America, 1936.
- Logan, Terence P., and Denzell S. Smith, eds., The Later Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama, Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1978.
- Knight, John Joseph (1887). "Carlell, Lodowick". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 9. London: Smith, Elder & Co.