William Ernest Bowman

(September 30th 1911 to January 1st 1985)

Who wrote Rum Doodle?

WE (Bill) BowmanWE (Bill) Bowman was born in 1911 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. He left school at the age of 16 and worked for much of his life as a draughtsman and civil engineer. During the war he served with the RAF in Egypt, working as a radar instructor. After the war he worked as a volunteer with IVSP (International Voluntary Service for Peace) in Duisburg, Germany. Soon after he became a pacifist and returned his RAF paybook to the government.

The Ascent of Rum Doodle was first published in 1956, not long after the first successful ascent of Everest. It quickly became a cult book in climbing circles, and the 1959 Australian Antarctic Expedition team named a small mountain near Mawson Base Mt Rumdoodle after the book.

Bill Bowman died on January 1st 1985.

Autobiography

 WE Bowman climbing Napes Needle in the 1930sWE Bowman wrote the following brief autobiography in 1983. It was read out at his funeral:

I appeared at Scarborough in 1911. In 14 the Kaiser shelled the place. In 18 my father and some others fettled the Kaiser. In 21 we moved to Middlesbrough. Educated at the High School, I was put to engineering. From 27 I suffered in a drawing office and got hooked on mountaineering - in books and the Lake District, writing - especially humorous, and Einstein's Relativity.

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Addition by Eva Bowman

Addition by his wife, Eva Bowman in 1999:

He was the eldest of three boys. His mother died when Bill was 15 and his father (from the effects of mustard gas) two years later. The three boys were separated - Bill went to live with an aunt in Middlesbrough, one brother to Canada and the youngest to yet another family.

In 1971 his health deteriorated & I feared he would have a 'commuter's coronary'. We therefore did a role swap; Bill was based at home & I went out to paid work. We brought up a step-daughter, a daughter and a son.

Other Rum Doodles

Since its first publication, the words Rum Doodle have been taken by fans of the book for a variety of purposes: the Rumdoodle sleeping bag, Rumdoodle climbing company, Rumdoodle the rock band!

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