Brown was born on 10 February 1906 in Calne, Wiltshire, the son of a rather austere Baptist ironmonger. He died in Oxford on 15 December 1994. He was educated at Taunton School and at Wadham College, Oxford, where he was secretary of the Union; he graduated in history in 1927 and in politics, philosophy and economics two years later. After a year in the USA as a Rockefeller Travelling Fellow, he became fellow in economics at New College, Oxford in 1930, where for a time George shackle was one of his research assistants. In the Second World War Phelps Brown served in the Royal Artillery, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel; his wartime experiences provided the background for his novel, The Balloon (1953).
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.