Subramaniam was born in Valangaiman in Thanjavur District. His first noted published work was the novel Poithevu (1946). He also wrote poems using the pseudonym Mayan. He published many literary journals like Ilakkiya vattam, Sooravali and Chandraodayam. He became a literary critic in the 1950s. His reviews first appeared in the magazines Swadesamitran and Saraswathi. He was a friend and contemporary of fellow literary critic C. S. Chellappa with whom he was involved in a long literary feud. He was considered as a rightwinger and Anti-Marxist by left leaning Tamil writers. In 1965, he moved to New Delhi and started writing articles for English language newspapers. For the next twenty years he lived in Delhi and moved back to Chennai only in 1985. In 1986, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for Tamil for his literary criticism Ilakkiyathukku oru Iyakkam (lit. A Movement for Literature). After his return to Chennai, he started writing for Tamil magazines like Kungumam, Mutharam, Dina mani Kathir and Thuglak. Pondicherry University made him an honorary professor. He died in 1988. The Government of Tamil Nadu nationalised his works in 2006.