DIY · Ephemera

New Year’s Children by Sophia May Bowley

This New Year’s Eve I’m sharing two collage sheets of Sophia May Bowley’s wonderful children:

Wings of Whimsy: New Year's Children by Sophia May Bowley #vintage #ephemera #freebie #printable #new #year #children #january #1stWings of Whimsy: New Year's Children by Sophia May Bowley #vintage #ephemera #freebie #printable #new #year #children #january #1st

Sophia May Bowley signed her work M. Bowley or just MB. She was also know as May Bowley (I have used her art before, HERE and HERE). She was the 2 years older sister of Ada Leonora Bowley, and the two sisters lived together, and worked together all their lives as illustrators, mainly for The Raphael Tuck & Sons Company.

I love a good mystery, and since it was a little harder than usual to find good information about Sophia May on the web, I decided to search for her on my genealogy sites! Here is what I found on

Sophia May Bowley

In 1881 she was 16 years old, living with her parents Edwin and Sarah Ellen Bowley in Lee, London according to this census.

So is her sister Ada Leonora Bowley at age 14:

Ada Leonora Bowley

In the 1911 census the two ladies are 44 and 46 years old, living in North St. Pancras, London. Sophia dies in the last quarter of 1960, around 95 years old, while her sister Ada Leonora dies in the second quarter of 1954, age 87. Both deaths are listed in Bridge, Kent (not far from Canterbury). If you want to take a look at the historical data about the two sisters, click on either of their records above 🙂

My friend Alexandra Roldao featured work by Ada Leonora Bowley in June 2015, found HERE. She says Ada died in 1943, but this is not supported by the historical records. However, there can always be errors in such records, so I will keep the possibility open! Alexandra, if you are reading this, you might be able to provide more insight to how you determined Ada’s year of death, and maybe correct my findings on the matter? I have also found references to Ada saying she was born in 1886, but I think that is definitely a mixup with another Ada Bowley! If the other Ada died in 1943, this might explain where that year has entered the equation.

Neither sister has her own Wikipedia page, or are mentioned on the Wikipedia page “Bowley” under notable people! Maybe because they were not married, and had no descendants to sustain their wonderful heritage? I’m considering creating a Wikipedia account just to make sure this missing information is added! 🙂

Until someone can provide convincing data (like copies of birth and death certificates) I choose to believe that both sisters lived very long lives, and are less remembered than their peers (like Frances Brundage, Ellen Clapsaddle, Catherine Klein) because they had no children, and possibly also because they worked near exclusively only for Raphael Tuck & Sons. Much of their work is also unsigned, thus it takes experts to give them due credit!

The files are free for your personal use and enjoyment. Go to the download folder below to grab your high quality copies 🙂

Download Printable

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I used the elements from the following source for this design:

Jolly Years – Tuck DB

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Gunnvor KaritaFollow me on Pinterest:

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4 thoughts on “New Year’s Children by Sophia May Bowley

  1. Hello my dear Gunnvor Karita!

    What a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2016!!

    I’m very pleased that you found trusted information about those spectacular artists.
    When I wrote my post I found very little about them.But the date of birth of Ada Bowley I found it in here:
    A few days past my friend Dindi from has noticed
    a little more information about this matter.

    I search the Net and I found the Photos of the two sisters in the http://www.artbiogs site.

    Perhaps, the Tuck’s DB can provide a bit more information. They have many wonderful materials.

    I say goodbye with a great hug, and hope that 2017 arrive full with many personal and professional joys.

    Alexandra Roldão

    1. Dear Alexandra 🙂

      Thank you for the additional information, although I’m not convinced that Artist Biographies has Ada’s death pinned down correctly. If there were two Ada’s it would be very easy to mix up their dates, and I think that is what might have happened here. Your friend Dindi uses the same death date, but goes on to say that after WW2 their work was no longer exclusive for Raphael Tuck & Sons, suggesting they both were alive… but after WW2 means after 1945, supporting my findings that Ada did not die in 1943.

      In Norway all records are digitized, and available for free to the public, if anyone from England is reading this perhaps you can let me know if there is similar digital records available in England and point me in the right direction? This is a mystery worth solving! 🙂 Or maybe someone from Kent would be willing to dig into this matter?

      I wish you a wonderful New Year, Alexandra, and look forward to seing your presentations of artist in 2017 🙂

      Gunnvor Karita 🙂

  2. Hi. You may have found out the following info by now but FYI; Sophia was born on 31st May 1864 in Dalston, Hackney, and died in Herne Bay on 9th Dec 1960. Ada was born on 22nd Dec 1866 in Kilburn, and died at Herne Bay on 18th May 1954. They are the second and fourth of four daughters of Edwin BOWLEY (1834-1914) and Sarah Ellen (nee Leonard) (1834-1908). They are certainly living together at 29 Croftdown Road, St Pancras, from 1918 to 1939, by which date they are calling themselves “retired artists”. They are sharing the same address in Herne Bay by 1954. They were cousins of my great grandmother Harriet Bowley.

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