Philip Ward founded the worldwide Private Libraries Association for book collectors in 1956, and for seven years edited The Private Library.
He first became known as a poet when The Guinness Book of Poetry chose one of his early Collected Poems (1960). His subsequent volumes have included the Libyan trilogy Seldom Rains, At the Best of Times and Maps on the Ceiling; Poems for participants and The Poet and the Microscope; A House on Fire (inspired by living in Libya, Egypt, Malta and Indonesia); another itinerant book for the Interim Press, The Keymakers; and the love poems and political poems of Imposters and their Imitators and Lost Songs. The Times Literary Supplement concluded: 'It is for their wit and their sure technique, based on complete avoidance of rhyme and all rhythmical banality, that these poems are to be valued'.
World Literature Today noted that 'Philip Ward is too good a poet to fall into the trap of using metaphysical tags to express his philosophical response to the postmodern world. Instead, each poem has a clear purpose and achieves that purpose with economy and grace. Ward's poems reveal a deep disillusionment with both politics and religion. What is left is only the courage to live as well as one is able with "the nothing of hope".'
His Enamel Mug again swings from introspection, love and marriage, to the difficult realities of life at the turn of the new century. He has lived and traveled recently in Bulgaria (his trilogy Bulgaria, Bulgarian Voices and Sofia covered the time before, during and after the fall of Zhivkov), in China, Japan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Mexico (the setting of his novel Forgotten Games), Peru, and latterly India, on which he has published Rajasthan, Agra, Delhi; South India; Western India; and Gujarat, Daman, Diu. Known as 'Danger' Ward to The Daily Telegraph, Philip Ward wrote the first modern travel book on Albania during the rule of Enver Hoxha. The title poem derives from a visit to Auschwitz for his book Polish Cities (1988; USA 1989).