Philip Young is considered to be the first serious Ernest Hemingway scholar; indeed his scholarship brought him into conflict with Hemingway himself. In his 1948 biography of Hemingway, written for his doctoral dissertation, Young argued that Hemingway’s writing was strongly affected by an injury Hemingway received in 1918, while serving in World War I. Hemingway strongly objected to this theory, quoting him as saying, “How would you like it if someone said that everything you’d done in your life was because of some trauma?” Hemingway fought to have the publication of Young’s biography stopped, but after exchanging correspondence with Young, Hemingway agreed to let the book be published.

Young was a Harvard graduate, Fulbright Scholar and a fellow of the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies. He taught at New York University and Kansas State University before joining the Penn State faculty in 1959. He was named Evan Pugh Professor of English at Penn State in 1981. He remained a professor of American literature at the Pennsylvania State University until his death in 1991 at the age of 73.