John Suckling was born in Norfolk and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and Gray's Inn.
He was knighted in 1630 and after his return in 1632 from military exploits abroad lived in great style at court, dissipating his inheritance through gambling. According to John Aubrey, a contemporary chronicler, he was fond of bowling and cards and was the inventor of the game of cribbage.
In 1639 he fought in the Bishops' Wars and two years later was forced to flee to France after his unsuccessful involvement in a plot to free the imprisoned Earl of Strafford was discovered. According to Aubrey, he committed suicide there by taking poison.
His chief works are included in Fragmenta Aurea (1646) which comprises poems, plays, and letters. His The Wits or Sessions of the Poets, in which a number of contemporary writers compete for the Laureate, was presented before the king in 1637. Aglaura, a five-act play, appeared the following year, as did another play, The Goblins. Suckling was a classic example of the cavalier poet, whose life was brief, colourful, and eventful.