Alfred Nelson Simpkin was born October 28, 1898 in Brooklyn, NYC. His father, George Fredrick Simpkin, was born in 1874 in England and came to America in 1877. His mother, Beatrice V. Darby, was born in 1874 in New York City of English ancestry. His parents married in Brooklyn in 1895, and had two children, Mae Manon Simpkin (b.1896), and Alfred Nelson Simpkin (b.1898). They lived at 86 Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. The father worked as an expert marble cutter and polisher.
On October 12, 1903 a third child was born, George Fredrick Simpkin, Jr.
On July 6, 1904 the younger brother, George Fredrick Simpkin, died at the age of nine months in NYC.
In 1907 the mother, Beatrice Simpkin, died at the age of thirty-three in NYC.
After these two tragic deaths the father abandoned his children and moved to Montreal, Canada, where he continued to work as a marble polisher. Alfred N. Simpkin was age nine, and his older sister was age eleven.
New York City Social Services sent the two children to live at foster homes.
Alfred N. Simpkin lived on a farm that was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Willett Vanderwater in East Meadow, NY, where he worked as a farm laborer.
In 1914, at the age of sixteen, Alfred N. Simpkin moved to New York City, where he lived with his Aunt Alice Beggs, at 196 Lexington Street in Brooklyn. To earn his keep, he worked as a clerk at the New York Telephone Company Building at Walker Street and Sixth Avenue.
On September 12, 1918 during the Great War, Alfred N. Simpkin reported for draft registration. He was recorded at the time to be age nineteen, tall, medium build, with gray eyes and brown hair. He served overseas as a private in the U.S. Army.
After his honorable discharge in 1919 he returned to NYC and studied at art school for three years.
In 1920 his older sister, Mae Manon Simpkin, married John W. Lowe, a farmer in Walton, NY. They had one child, Beatrice Ruth Lowe, who was born on May 29, 1921.
In 1924 he began to draw pen-and-ink interior story illustrations for pulp magazines.
In 1925 Alfred N. Simpkin painted a cover for the pulp magazine Adventure.
By 1927 the artist's estranged father had left Canada and returned to Brooklyn, where he married a second wife, Jacqueline A. Borner, and continued to work as a marble finisher.
In 1930 Alfred N. Simpkin painted dust jackets for hardcover novels produced by the Doubleday Doran Company.
On August 26, 1931 the artist's father, George Fredrick Simpkin, died at the age of fifty-seven in Brooklyn.
During the 1930s Alfred N. Simpkin drew pen-and-ink story illustrations for Blue Book Magazine.
In 1940 he was listed as the occupant of an art studio in the Broadway Arcade Building at 1947 Broadway, between 65th and 66th Streets. Many professional illustrators lived and worked in this building, such as Richard Lillis, George Gross and Rafael M. DeSoto.
In 1943 during WWII Alfred N. Simpkin again registered with his draft board as required by law, but at the age of forty-five, he was not selected for military service.
On February 25, 1946 The Detroit Free Press reported that Alfred N. Simpkin had joined the art staff of New Center Studios, a Detroit advertising art agency. He produced story illustrations for syndicated newspapers.
On July 30, 1951 Alfred N. Simpkin married Dorothy Ernestine Workman. She was born on April 24, 1904 in Detroit, Michigan, where she worked as a public school teacher. The bride was age forty-seven and the groom was age fifty-three. They had no children.
By 1961 the artist had retired from commercial art. The married couple left Detroit and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where they lived on North O Street.
On August 27, 1965 the artist's older sister, Mae Manon Simpkin Lowe, died at the age of seventy-one in Walton, NY.
Alfred N. Simpkin died at the age of eighty-four in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 15, 1983.
© David Saunders 2017