Poet, novelist, editor, and Darwin expert Philip Appleman is known for his biting social commentary and masterful command of form. The author of numerous volumes of poetry, three novels, and half a dozen collections of prose, Appleman’s range of subject matter includes Darwin, politics, morality, and sex. Art Seidenbaum in the Los Angeles Times described Appleman’s second novel, Shame the Devil (1981) as entertaining and provocative: "Most of our modern manners are [satirized]....Appleman wants to amuse and drop morals without moralizing; he's smart enough to do it swiftly, knowing the warp of satire soon wears thin." Appleman’s poetry similarly skewers both literary conventions and contemporary mores. With illustrations by Arnold Roth, Appleman’s collection Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie (2009) takes on large social issues with irreverence, wit, and formal prowess. Poet X.J. Kennedy alleges in the book’s forward: “Appleman is a master of the sonnet, the terse rhymed epigram, and even that fiendishly ingenious form, the double dactyl. To watch him sling words is to be richly regaled.” The recipient of numerous awards, including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Morley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Pushcart Prize, Appleman has served on the boards of the Poetry Society of America and the Poet’s House. He has taught at SUNY Purchase, Columbia University, and is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University.
Appleman was born in 1926 in Indiana and holds degrees from Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Lyon. He served in U.S Army Air Corps during World War II, and was a merchant marine after. A recognized expert on the life and work of Charles Darwin, Appleman edited the critical anthology Darwin (2001) and penned two books of poems on the 19th century naturalist, Darwin's Ark (1984) and Darwin’s Bestiary (1986). Critics have singled out Appleman's grasp of Darwin's provocative theories and his ability to elucidate their social implications. Bette Chambers in the Humanist commented on the second edition of Darwin: "Laypersons and scientists alike will treasure this new edition as an essential reference work. Appleman's own lucid style emerges in 'Darwin Among the Moralists' and 'Darwin: On Changing the Mind.'" Regarding the poems of Darwin's Ark, Stephen Jay Gould praised Appleman for having "captured the elusive themes of Darwin's worldview and translat[ing] them into items of beauty that also provoke thought." Gould added that Appleman "deftly captures the meaning of Darwin's revolution," citing the "central theme of continuity between man and nature."
Both Appleman’s poetry and prose have appeared in dozens of publications, including the Nation, the New York Times, New Republic, Paris Review, Poetry, and the Yale Review. He is married to the playwright Marjorie Appleman.


  • Kites on a Windy Day, Byron Press, 1967.
  • Summer Love and Surf, Vanderbilt University Press, 1968.
  • Open Doorways, Norton, 1976.
  • Darwin's Ark (illustrated by Rudy Pozzatti), Indiana University Press, 1984.
  • Darwin's Bestiary, Echo Press, 1986.
  • Let There be Light, Harper Perennial, 1991.
  • New and Selected Poems, 1956-1996, University of Arkansas Press, 1996.
  • Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie, W.W. Norton, 2009.
  • Perfidious Proverbs and Other Poems, Prometheus Books, 2013. 
  • In the Twelfth Year of the War, Putnam, 1970.
  • Shame the Devil, Crown, 1981.
  • Apes and Angels, Putnam, 1989.
  • (Editor with William A. Madden and Michael Wolff, and contributor) 1859: Entering an Age of Crisis, Indiana University Press, 1959.
  • The Silent Explosion, foreword by Sir Julian Huxley, Beacon Press, 1965, 2nd edition, 1966.
  • (Editor and contributor) Darwin (critical anthology), Norton, 1970, 2nd edition, 1979, 3rd edition, 2001.
  • (Editor) Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Norton, 1975, 2nd edition, 2002.
  • (Editor) Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (critical anthology), Norton, 1976, 2nd edition, 2003.
  • The Labyrinth: God, Darwin, and the Meaning of Life, Quantuck Lane Press, 2014.

  • Contributor of poetry to numerous periodicals, including Antioch Review, Harper's, Massachusetts Review, Nation, New Republic, New York Times, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Poetry, Sewanee Review, and Yale Review. Contributor of articles and reviews to scholarly periodicals. Victorian Studies, cofounder, 1956, co-editor, 1956-64.


Further Readings

  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 51, Gale, 1989.
  • American Poetry Review,July/August, 1977.
  • Best Sellers,January 15, 1971.
  • Christian Science Monitor,April 29, 1965.
  • Contact II,fall, 1987.
  • Harper's,August, 1965.
  • Home Planet News,spring/summer, 1987.
  • Hudson Review,spring, 1971.
  • Humanist,July/ August, 1980.
  • Kentucky Poetry Review,issue 25, 1989.
  • Los Angeles Times,April 22, 1981.
  • New Yorker,June 26, 1965.
  • New York Times,November 30, 1970; July 7, 1991.
  • New York Times Book Review,August 9, 1981.
  • Parnassus: Poetry in Review,Volume 14, number 1, 1987.
  • Poetry,August, 1977.
  • Prairie Schooner,fall, 1969.
  • Virginia Quarterly Review,summer, 1969.
  • Washington Post,May 15, 1981.
  • WebWUUrks, issue 7, 1998.