Born 1952 in Delabole, a slate quarrying village in north Cornwall - only child of a wartime refugee from Estonia and the village schoolmaster's daughter. Started writing stories in junior school.
"From the earliest poems in THE ICE FACTORY to the recent MAPPA MUNDI, his poetry and novels are full of places off the edge of maps, places which might or might not be quite real - and of people on the edge of things, not quite sure where or whether they belong"
Grew up and went to school in Plymouth, within sight of the dockyards and the sea. Spent weekends walking on Dartmoor. Started writing poems in his mid teens, and discovered music (playing in a band called Wasteland, after the poem by T.S. Eliot)
From this time: granite landscapes and a taste for moorland marked with clues and history, from prehistoric standing stones to derelict tin mines. Plus all the pent-up feelings of being rather too good a boy at school.
Went to Sussex University to study English... and promptly stopped writing poetry for ten years. (Some of it went underground, as songs.) It took the birth of his daughter to bring back the need for poetry. Worked for a correspondence college and in libraries.
Living in various places, mostly very ordinary... but exploring in other ways: far Left politics, encounter groups, thinking feminism was basically right and wondering what was a man supposed to do, Buddhist meditation, the peace movement, marriage, fatherhood.
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Moved to Bristol, sharing the housework and care of son and daughter with his first wife. Won his first poetry competitions and first books appeared - first for adults, later for children. Began visiting schools all over England, leading writing workshops.
Urban street scenes start to be the natural backdrop for the writing, with the rich mixture of cultures and language and energies in city life. 'Nowhere' turns out to be not only far away and long ago but in the next street, sometimes.
Worked as a freelance writer and workshop leader. Joined Bath Spa University College to teach on their Creative Studies programme. The writing branches out into novels for young people, as well as science fiction, haiku, radio and stage plays, and collaborations with live musicians, dancers, visual artists, and an opera composer. See the Fiction/Drama page for details
THE WASTING GAME, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize, explores from first hand experience the impact of teenage anorexia on a family - the start of a concern with the complicated ways young people's lives can be damaged - the narrow line between healthy risk and lasting harm.
Philip talked about this in an interview for the Poetry Society with ideas for classroom follow-up work on National Poetry Day.
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Married his second wife Zélie, in 2000. Now publishing novels with Oxford University Press. The latest is THE STORM GARDEN, a teenage novel about 'a love affair between truth and lies'.
Work-in-Progress Always on the lookout for creative collaboration, Philip works with engraver Peter Reddick to produce THE ABSTRACT GARDEN, a limited edition from the Old Stile Press, followed by I SPY PINHOLE EYE with photographer Simon Denison and a large public poetry/sculpture piece with sculptor Alec Peever in a park in Newport, Gwent.
For a flavour of Philip's ideas for creative writing work in schools, click www.PoetryClass.net or for a glimpse of his interests in university Creative Writing see an abtract of his article in New Writing Journal.
In 2004 he left Bath Spa University College to become Professor of Creative Writing at Glamorgan University - almost full circle from the slate quarries of North Cornwall to the mining valleys of South Wales.
He lives in Penarth, on the shores of the Severn Sea/Môr Hafren/Bristol Channel, which the poems in The Water Table contemplate.
If you would like more information about creative writing at Glamorgan University, please see
www.Glamorgan.ac.uk for undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses including the M.Phil in Writing.
To know more, please email Philip Gross.
Current titles are available from all good bookshops
To order copies of backlist titles, please email your requirements and we will check availability.
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