Chaturvedi was born in bavai village in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh on 4 April 1889. He became a schoolteacher when he was aged 16. Later, he was the editor of the nationalist journals Prabha, Pratap and Karmaveer, and was repeatedly incarcerated during the British Raj. After the Indian independence, he refrained from seeking a position in the government, instead continuing to speak and write against social evils and in support of an exploitation-free, equitable society as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi.
His noted works are "Venu Lo Gunje dhara",Him Kirtini, Him Tarangini (Hindi: हिम तरंगिणी), Yug Charan (Hindi: युग चरण), and Sahitya Devata (Hindi: साहित्य देवता), and his most noted poems are Dip Se Dip Jale (Hindi: दीप से दीप जले), Kaisa Chhand Banaa Deti hai (Hindi: कैसा छन्द बना देती है) and Pushp ki Abhilaashaa (Hindi: पुष्प की अभिलाषा).
In his memory, the Madhya PradeshSahitya Akademi (Madhya Pradesh Cultural Council) organizes the annual 'Makhanlal Chaturvedi Samaroh', since 1987, besides awarding the annual 'Makhanlal Chaturvedi Puraskar' in poetry for excellence in poetry by an Indian poet 
The Makhanlal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita Vishwavidyalaya at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh has been named in his honor