Philip Hodgins was born on a dairy farm at Katandra West near Shepparton, Victoria. Educated in Geelong, he worked for ten years as a sales representative for Macmillan publishers in Melbourne before becoming a full time student at Melbourne University in 1986. In November 1983, aged 24, Hodgins began treatment for leukaemia. In 1990 he married writer Janet Shaw with whom he had two daughters.
Hodgins' first book of poetry Blood and Bone (1986), received critical acclaim and he won a number of other prizes, including the Prairie Schooner Readers' Choice USA Award. He was a prolific contributor to many Australian newspapers, anthologies and literary journals.
Tightly controlled at the formal level, Hodgins' poetry has been praised by critics for its original, often lyrical imagery, and unsentimental treatment of the Australian pastoral genre. His mentors included Les Murray, Gwen Harwood and Peter Porter. Much of his poetry encompassed his formative years in country Victoria, school life, hospital experiences, international travel, family life and the experience of incurable illness.
The inaugural Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Literary Excellence was awarded to Bruce Dawe in 1997.