Philip Kimball was born in Piedmont, Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1963. He continued his education as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Heidelberg, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, and a graduate student at Stanford University. After teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA and the University of Bonn in Germany, he left the academic world to engage in a series of jobs while writing his first novel, Harvesting Ballads, which was published in 1984 to great acclaim. His second novel, Liar’s Moon, was published in 1999 and was nominated by the New York City Public Library for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Kimball was also a published poet, and several of his poems are included in the anthology, Phoenix Papers: 26 Lawrence Poets (1993).
In 1982, Kimball married Jennifer Brown in Boston, MA. The couple had two daughters, Corinna and Lauren. The family later relocated to Lawrence, Kansas, where Kimball lived until his death in September of 2014.