This New Year’s Eve I’m sharing two collage sheets of Sophia May Bowley’s wonderful children:
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 Familysearch.org:
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:
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 🙂
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I used the elements from the following source for this design: