Philip Lake, British geographer, geologist and palaeontologist, became a student at the Durham College of Science in Newcastle upon Thyne, where he developed an interest in geology. He gained a scholarship at St John's College, University of Cambridge, in 1883 and two years later published his first paper, at the age of 20. It dealt with a hippopotamus fossil found at Barrington, Somerset, and was published as a note from the Woodwardian (Geological) Museum, Cambridge University, in the Geological Magazine. After completing his degree he was appointed to the Geological Survey of India, which published four reports by him on the geology of that country during 1890-1891. After three years he resigned for reasons of health and returned to the United Kingdom. During the next few years his work related mainly to Wales, resulting in papers on, among others, the geology of the country near Corwen (1893) and south Denbigshire (1894), and on Bala Lake and the river system of north Wales (1900). Later he became a lecturer on physical and regional geography in Cambridge University.
During these years another of his papers, on British Silurian species of Acidaspis, a genus of trilobites, was published in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society (1895). Some years later he was considered an expert on the Trilobita. In 1904 he described "The trilobites of the Bokkeveld beds" in the Annals of the South African Museum (Vol. 4(4), pp. 201-220), which constituted his only significant contribution to South African palaeontology. Two years later he published A monograph of the British Cambrian trilobites (London, 1906), as well as a paper on trilobites from Bolivia.
Later in his career Lake wrote 17 articles on regional geographies for the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911). In two papers published in Nature (1923) and the Geological Magazine (1925) he discussed and evaluated the theory of continental drift proposed by Alfred Wegener. He also produced two popular textbooks that indicate his wide interest in the earth sciences: A textbook of geology (1910, 4th ed. 1927), and Physical geography (1915, 3rd ed. 1952). Earlier he had already translated a German geological textbook, Lehrbuch der Geologie (by E. Kayser, 2nd ed., 1902), into English.
Lake became a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1904.