Cornelius "Connie" Anthony Murphy was born September 23, 1898 in Providence, Rhode Island. His father, Cornelius William Murphy, was born 1852 in Ireland. His mother, Julia C. Murphy, was born 1858 in Ireland. His parents married in Ireland in 1878 and had five children, whose names were Mary, Walter, Bartholomew, Nellie, and John. In 1889 the family immigrated to America. They settled in Providence , RI, where his parents had their sixth, seventh, and eighth child. His older sister Julia was born in 1893. His younger brother William was born in 1902. The family of ten lived at 33 Rye Street. His father was a custodian engineer at a local woolen mill. The woolen industry employed many Irish immigrants, including all five of the older Murphy children.
After graduating high school in 1915 Connie Murphy worked in Providence as a clerk. His cousin, Adriel C. Murphy, was also a clerical worker. She worked at the Rhode Island Department of Unemployed, where she knew a co-worker, Veronica Brothers, who she introduced to her cousin.
In 1917 his father became the custodian engineer at the Providence Armory, and the family moved to 90 Wilson Street.
By 1918 Connie Murphy worked as an inventory clerk at the Louis K. Liggett Company on Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street in New York City. The Liggett Company operated a chain of corner drugstores.
On September 7, 1918 during the Great War he registered for military service, and was recorded to be of medium height, slender build, with gray eyes, and brown hair. He served as a private and was honorably discharged on January 10, 1919.
After the war he returned to Providence and continued to work as an accountant. He continued to court Veronica Brothers. He also studied art through mail-order courses from the International Correspondence School (ICS) of Scranton, PA. This was the same art training that Rudolph Belarski received.
In 1924 he was listed as a licensed notary republic in a Providence, RI, business directory.
By 1930 he completed his art studies and began to work part-time as a freelance artist. He drew illustrations for local newspaper advertising.
In 1931 he moved to New York City and rented an apartment in Brooklyn, from which he worked as a freelance pen and ink artist.
An indication of his success as a NYC freelance artist was noted by a gossip columnist in The Brooklyn Daily Star on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1932, "Connie Murrphy, one of the town's better illustrators, will X-mas at home in Providence."
On January 14, 1933 he joined the art staff of Popular Publications. With a steady income he was able to propose marriage to his girlfriend in Providence.
On October 27, 1934 he married Veronica Ursula Brothers in Providence, RI, where she was born September 7, 1897. Her father, James F. Brothers, was born 1856 in Massachusetts. Her mother, Jane "Jennie" Feeney, was born 1858 in Ireland. There were five children in her family. They lived at 58 Wabun Avenue. She worked as a stenographer and legal secretary at a local law office, where her older brother, James E. Brothers (b.1884) worked as a general practice lawyer. Her brother Dr. John H. Brothers (b.1887) was the physician at Providence College. Her two older sisters were Susan Josephine Brothers (b.1890) and Margaret M. Brothers (b.1894).
The married couple moved to a modest home in Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey. He used a spare room as his art studio and commuted by train to receive and delivery weekly assignments from New York City publishers. He listed his average work week as comprising sixty hours.
In 1935 Connie Murphy's pen and ink interior story illustrations appeared in issues of the pulp magazine Horror Stories, which was produced by Popular Publications. He went on to illustrate hundreds of stories in pulp magazines, such as Action Stories, All Sports, Clues Detective, Dynamic Science Stories, Exciting Football, Exciting Western, Famous Western, Football Action, From Unknown Worlds, Future Science Fiction Stories, Giant Western, G-Men Detective, The Lone Eagle, Masked Rider Western, Popular Detective, Popular Football, Popular Sports, Popular Western, Real Western Stories, The Rio Kid Western, Startling Stories, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Adventures, Thrilling Detective, Thrilling Sports, Thrilling Western, Triple Western, and Western Romances. All of these pulp magazines were published in NYC.
His drawings are frequently signed with a distinctive signature "C. A. Murphy" composed of small jotted strokes.
The artist was paid around five dollars for each line drawing. At that rate even the most prolific artist had difficulty earning a substantial income, so his wife kept her job as a law clerk, accountant, and notary public. Most of the pulp fiction stories he illustrated were sensational in nature, so he used a nondescript signature to preserve the reputation of his family name.
By 1940 he was earning enough from illustration to buy a house in New Jersey, from which he could still find freelance jobs in the New York City publishing industry. He and Veronica moved to Hawthorne, New Jersey, and lived at 222 Lincoln Avenue. They had no children.
During WWII he did not serve in the military, at which time he was forty-five years old, so his illustrations continued to appear in print throughout the war years.
In the 1950s he illustrated several children's books for the NYC publisher, Wonder Books Inc., such as The Christmas Carol, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Football for Beginners.
In the late 1950s, the final years Columbia Publications produced pulp magazines, several issues of Famous Western, Real Western Stories, and Western Romances had covers by C. A. Murphy. The industry convention was to use full-color paintings on pulp covers, so it was extraordinary for line art to appear on pulp covers. Although this innovation was undoubtedly motivated by economic necessity, it is still an exceptional honor for the work of a pen-and-ink artist to appear on a pulp cover. It is tempting to regard these unique instances as the poignant crowning glory at the end of C. A. Murphy's long and prolific career. His last interior story illustration appeared in the March 1960 issue of Science-Fiction Stories.
By the late 1950s it became a challenge to earn a decent annual income from freelance illustration, so his wife Veronica resumed her earlier career as a legal secretary. She worked in Hawthorne until well after retirement age.
During the 1960s he drew single-panel gag cartoons for Humorama publications, such as Zip and Breezy. These were signed with an abbreviated pen name composed of his three initials "CAM."
In 1968 Connie and Veronica Murphy moved from Hawthorne, NJ, to Glen Rock, NJ, where they lived at 46 Ridge Road and attended St. Catherine Church.
C. A. Murphy died in Glen Rock, NJ, at the age of eighty-five on June 7, 1984.
© David Saunders 2011