Arthur Rodman Bowker was born October 18, 1881 in Mount Holly, New Jersey, which is between Philadelphia, PA, and Trenton, NJ. His father, Rodman W. Bowker, was born in 1855 in NJ. His mother, Ida Louisa Wiseman, was born in 1861 in NJ. His parents married in 1880 and had three children, Arthur (b.1881), Ida (b.1883), and James (b.1888). The family lived at 114 Risdon Street in Mount Holly. The father was a shoe manufacturer.
In June of 1898, at the age of seventeen, Arthur Rodman Bowker completed the eleventh grade of high school in Mount Holly, after which he began to attend the School of Industrial Arts in Philadelphia. He studied illustration with Sophie Bertha Steel (1870-1957), a former pupil of Howard Pyle (1853-1911). Another of his instructors at the school was Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945), who taught a class in modeling the figure with clay. This teacher's son was the great American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
On June 8, 1902 The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the graduation ceremonies at The School of Industrial Arts and featured the work of Arthur Rodman Bowker, who was awarded a $50 Prize for Outstanding Illustration Art.
After completing his art training, Arthur Rodman Bowker returned to his family home, where he used a spare room as his art studio and began to advertise his services.
His younger brother, James Bowker, became a professional draftsman at a New Jersey shipyard.
In 1906 Arthur Rodman Bowker moved to Philadelphia to open his first professional art studio away from home, at 904 Pine Street.
In 1907 Arthur Rodman Bowker married Genevieve M. Bowker. She was born in 1880 in Indiana. She was one-year older than the artist, and was a divorcée with a child. The marriage soon ended unhappily in divorce.
The 1908 Philadelphia Business Directory listed Arthur Rodman Bowker as a magazine illustrator living at 5321 Grays Avenue.
In 1913 Arthur Rodman Bowker began to draw pen-and-ink interior story illustrations for Adventure Magazine.
In 1915 he began to draw pen-and-ink interior illustrations for Smith's Magazine. One year later he was hired as a staff artist at Street & Smith Publications.
He left Philadelphia and moved to New York City, where he rented an apartment at 78 West 11th Street in the Bohemian neighborhood of Greenwich Village.
On September 12, 1918, during the Great War, Arthur Rodman Bowker reported for draft registration. He was recorded at the time to be of medium height, slender, with blue eyes and blond hair.
On April 26, 1920 his mother, Ida Louisa (Wiseman) Bowker, died at the age of fifty-nine. The youngest brother, James Bowker, had married and moved away from home to start his family, so that left only the unmarried sister, Ida Pauline Bowker, to remain at home and keep house for the elderly widowed father.
On May 1, 1922 his father, Rodman W. Bowker, died at the age of sixty-seven. After the death of both parents, the artist's younger sister, Ida Pauline Bowker, was unmarried and age thirty-nine. She left Mount Holly and moved to NYC to koin her older brother to keep house for him, while he was preoccupied with his successful career.
In 1926 the editor at Black Mask Magazine was Joseph "Cap" Shaw (1874-1952). He hired Arthur Rodman Bowker to almost exclusively illustrate this popular detective fiction magazine. Covers were painted by Fred Craft, H. C. Murphy, and Jes Schlaikjer.
On December 23, 1931 Arthur Rodman Bowker and his sister Ida Pauline Bowker rented an apartment in 10 Mitchell Place, a large fancy apartment building on East 49th Street facing the East River.
In 1935 he illustrated the children's book, "David and Mary Alice Go To Washington" by Beatrice Henning Shaw for Grafton Press.
On June 24, 1941 Arthur Rodman Bowker and his sister Ida Pauline Bowker rented a more spacious apartment in the same building at 10 Mitchell Place.
In 1942, during WWII, Arthur Rodman Bowker reported for draft registration, and was recorded to be five-nine, 145 pounds, with a light complexion, blue eyes and white hair. At the age of sixty-one he was not selected for military service.
On January 14, 1954 his younger brother, James Beha Bowker, died of a heart attack at the age of sixty-five.
Arthur Rodman Bowker died at the age of eighty-nine on March 20 , 1971. His younger sister, and life-long companion, lived another six years.
© David Saunders 2016