Philip Martin was educated at Xavier College, Kew (1937-1950), where the poet Joseph O'Dwyer (q.v.) was teaching. O'Dwyer gave the fledgling author great encouragement. Martin then went to the University of Melbourne, where he received a B.A. (1958). He worked at the Titles Office, Melbourne (1953-1956) and was employed as a Publication Officer, University of Melbourne (1956-1960), Tutor in English, University of Melbourne (1960-1962), temporary Lecturer in English, ANU (1963), Lecturer in English, Monash University (1964-1971), Visiting Lecturer, University of Amsterdam (1967), Visiting Professor, University of Venice (1976) and Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota (1983) and Senior Lecturer in English at Monash University, Melbourne (1972-1988) until his early retirement due to ill health.
From 1962 Martin was a frequent broadcaster on ABC radio and community radio and a script-writer of literary programs for ABC radio and television. He was a member of International PEN, Fellowship of Australian Writers, Association for the Study of Australian Literature and Amnesty International. He was also the Chair of the Poet's Union of Australia, Melbourne Branch (1978-1979 and 1981-1982). Bruce Dawe publicly acknowledged Martin as a friend and mentor.
Martin was a poet, teacher, translator, critic, reviewer and broadcaster of poetry and features on Australian and overseas radio. He was widely published in Australia, Europe and the United States, as well as reading his work in these and other countries. His work appears frequently in journals and anthologies. He broadcast both as a critic and poetry-reader, and wrote the scripts for several television features produced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Martin's other works include: Shakespeare's Sonnets: Self, Love and Art (1982), Lars Gustafsson (translated by Martin, 1982) and Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World before Bach (translated by Martin, 1988).