Phillip is Island-born and educated, first at Cowes Secondary Modern and then Newport Grammar School from where he went on to London university. He studied chemistry at Queen Mary College taking his first degree and then a doctorate.
He began his teaching career in Falmouth then went on to Rugby and finally at Nailsea in Somerset. Still only thirty two, he became science adviser for Somerset Education Authority before moving to County of Avon as a senior adviser. Later he worked as an Ofsted inspector and retired to live in a Victorian rectory just outside Worcester, where he continues to surround himself with books, maps and prints of the Isle of Wight.
It was whilst working in Somerset that he published his first book, combining a lifelong interest in historic maps and prints with his Isle of Wight background. Phillip’s A Bibliography of George Brannon’s ‘Vectis Scenery’, 1820-1857 is about the life and work of the acclaimed Irish-born Isle of Wight artist, printmaker and publisher whose etchings of scenes of the Island in the 1800s were collected and catalogued by Phillip for the first time, and it was Brannon’s grandson who became a founder of the Isle of Wight County Press.