D'Églantine produced numerous poems. At a young age, he won the lys d'argent, silver lilly, second prize in a poetry competition. However, he took on the name Églantine from the name of the first prize, the églantine d'or, the golden wild rose, which he claimed to have won. He soon became a traveling singer under the name Fabre d'Églantine, and wrote the famous song Il pleut, il pleut, bergère, meaning "it rains, it rains, shepherdess".
The revolution became his claim to fame. He was saved from being imprisoned for debt by a letter of remission from King Louis XVI. D'Églantine began rioting against the monarchy at the outbreak of the revolution, becoming involved in shady dealings with Jean-Paul Marat and Georges Danton and joining the Jacobin Club while writing popular plays. In order to maintain his luxurious lifestyle, he offered his services to the monarchy, accepting three million livres in exchange for creating a royalist faction within the Jacobins.
Around this time, d'Églantine was also a member of the Bande noire, a black market gang which acquired buildings through fake auctions. During one of these auctions, a church was to be sold to d'Églantine, who made a bid of two hundred livres. However, the gendarme Jean-Baptiste Dossonville, who intended to disrupt the auction, outbid him by increasingly larger amounts.
After Danton became Minister of Justice in 1792, he hired d'Églantine as his secretary. He was blamed by Maximilien de Robespierre for interfering with army supplies, and made a vast profit by ordering thousands of pairs of boots for the troops, which were never delivered. D'Églantine came up with names for months of the revolutionary calendar, and was amongst those blamed for the September Massacres. After becoming involved in the fraudulent affairs of the French East India Company, he was targeted by Robespierre as a way to eliminate his rival Danton.
On 5 April, d'Églantine was guillotined along with Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles and Pierre Philippeaux. Robespierre came to describe d'Églantine as "Talented, but with no soul. Skilled in the art of depicting men, even more skillful in deceiving them". The historian Jean Tulard called him a "lazy, unstable, handsome hunk".