He was born in Lancashire in northern England and worked as a journalist for BBC World Service TV and BBC Radio 4. He published his first book, Candlenight, in 1991 and began his Merrily Watkins in 1998. In 2010 he began the John Dee Papers series, which focuses on the Welsh mathematician and astrologer John Dee. Rickman has also worked on several music albums based upon his books and has helped write many of the albums' songs.
In his writing, Rickman states that he performs research into the folklore, religion, and supernatural themes in his books, citing that "If I can't believe it, it doesn't go in". He has also voiced his unhappiness over his earlier works labeling him as a horror writer, stating that he felt that the books did not fit neatly within the genre.
- Candlenight (1991)
- Crybbe (Curfew in the USA) (1993)
- The Man in the Moss (1994)
- December (1994)
- The Chalice (1997)
- The Cold Calling (1998, as Will Kingdom)
- Mean Spirit (2001, as Will Kingdom)
- Night After Night (2014)
- Marco's Pendulum (2006, as Thom Madley)
- Marco and the Blade of Night (2007, as Thom Madley)
Merrily Watkins series
- The Wine of Angels (1998)
- Midwinter of the Spirit (1999)
- A Crown of Lights (2001)
- The Cure of Souls (2001)
- The Lamp of the Wicked (2002)
- The Prayer of the Night Shepherd (2004)
- The Smile of a Ghost (2005)
- The Remains of an Altar (2006)
- The Fabric of Sin (2007)
- To Dream of the Dead (2008)
- The Secrets of Pain (2011)
- The Magus of Hay (2013)
- Friends of the Dusk (2015)
- All of a Winter's Night (2017)
- The House of Susan Lulham - was first published in the Oxfam "Oxcrimes" anthology (May 2014). In December 2014 an extended version which is "five times as long" was published for Kindle
- Merrily's Border (with photographer John Mason) (2009) - The Places in Herefordshire & the Marches Behind the Merrily Watkins Novels.
The second Merrily book "Midwinter of the Spirit" (which is the first "Exorcism" story) has been made into a three-part TV drama by ITV. The Cast includes Anna Maxwell-Martin as Merrily, Sally Messham as Jane and David Threlfall as Huw Owen. It was released in late 2015.
- Songs from Lucy's Cottage (2009, by Lol Robinson and Hazey Jane II)
- A Message from the Morning (2010, by Lol Robinson and Hazey Jane II)
- Abbey Tapes: the Exorcism (2011, by Philosopher's Stone, based upon the novel December)
- "Veterans of genre thrill and chill". Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Exorcising crime with Merrily Watkins". CounterCulture. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Kerridge, Jake. "A page in the life: Phil Rickman". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Rickman creation comes to life on CD". Hereford Times. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Review: Curfew". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Lytle, Betty. "Book review: Phil Rickman's "The Bones of Avalon"". News OK. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- May, Philippa. "Philippa May reviews 'The Bones of Avalon' by Phil Rickman". Hereford Times. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Yager, Susanna. "Firmly grounded in reality". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Crime novels inspire album". Kirkintilloch Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013.