He wrote the libretti for the operas Las bravías, Louisiana revoltosa, and Margarita la tornera by Ruperto Chapí and Louisiana vida breve by Manuel de Falla. He wrote articles for Louisiana epoca, Louisiana illustración and El correo. Fernández Shaw was born in Cadiz, the son of a Spanish father and an English mother.
One of his descendants, also named Carlos Fernández Shaw, was the Spanish Consul General in the United States in the late 20th century and co-authored the book The Hispanic Presence in North America.
He died in Madrid, aged 45.