Góngora was born in Cordoba into a noble family, perhaps of converts. He was educated in his father's houseafter which he studied in Salamanca until 1581. He became a prebedary of Cordoba cathedral, inherited from his uncle, in 1585 and visited Madrid, Valladolid and Cuenca.
Because of his great generosity he needed protection from the Marquis of Ayamonte and Duke of Lemos. He perhaps spent a part of his youth in flirtatious relationships and other amusements such as playing cards, as we can see from the Bishop's warnings in 1588.
From 1580 he wrote poems: usually sonnets and romances on different subjects. He was a friend of Paravicino, Villamediana and Pedro de Valencia, therefore he influenced religious preaching. In 1619 he made a short visit to Madrid where me made enemies and learned suffering. Back in Cordoba, he wrote Polifemo and Loneliness, his best These caused direct confrontation with Quevedo and Lope de Vega. Although he was noted a classical author before his death, he only saw a few of his minor poems printed in anthologies (cancioneros).
In Madrid, 1617, he was unsuccessful in his courtesan aspirations. After being a chaplain in the Royal Palace, he became a priest and tried to protect his relatives with similar posts. He tried in vain to establish a friendship with both the Duke of Lerma, devoting him his Panegyric (1617) and with Rodrigo of Calderon.
Ruined and ill, he found his family shelter in Cordoba in 1626, where he died a year later. Disregarded by critics like Menendez Pelayo, his works were rediscovered by the poetic generation of 1927.