Image of B. M. Bower


Lifetime: 1871 - 1940 Passed: ≈ 83 years ago




United States

B. M. Bower

Bertha Muzzy Sinclair or Sinclair-Cowan best known by her pseudonym B. M. Bower, was an American author who wrote novels, fictional short stories, and screenplays about the American Old West. Her works, featuring cowboys and cows of the Flying U Ranch in Montana, reflected "an interest in ranch life, the use of working cowboys as main characters (even in romantic plots), the occasional appearance of eastern types for the sake of contrast, a sense of western geography as simultaneously harsh and grand, and a good deal of factual attention to such matters as cattle branding and bronc busting." She was married three times: to Clayton Bower in 1890, to Bertrand William Sinclair (also a Western author) in 1905, and to Robert Elsworth Cowan in 1921. However, she chose to publish under the name Bower.

Born Bertha Muzzy in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, to Washington Muzzy and Eunice Miner Muzzy, Bower moved with her family to a dryland homestead near Great Falls, Montana, in 1889. That fall, just before her eighteenth birthday, she began teaching school in nearby Milligan Valley. The school was a small, hastily converted log outbuilding, and she taught twelve pupils. Her experiences as a teacher informed the characters of schoolma'ams who appear frequently in her in the writings, notably in The North Wind Do Blow (1937), in which a young, eastern-born schoolma'am teaches her first term in central Montana. After one term as a schoolteacher, Bower returned to her family's homestead.

Bower began writing to "save my sanity" after moving to Big Sandy with her first husband. Seeking financial independence from Clayton, she began sending stories to publishers in 1900. She regularly wrote new material while continuing to send out her old stories once a month. Bower published her first short story, "Strike of the Dishpan Brigade," locally in 1901. Her first short story to be published nationally, "Ghost in the Red Shirt," appeared in Lippincott’s Magazine in 1904.

Later that year, Bower published her first Western novel, Chip of the Flying U, as a serial in Popular Magazine by Street & Smith. The book introduced readers to the fictional Flying U Ranch and the "Happy Family" of cowboys who lived there. The story line centers on a cowboy named Chip and his relationship with Dr. Della Whitmore, a self-reliant doctor from the East who "can shoot a coyote, laugh off a hazing, doctor a horse, and turn cowboys into pediatric orderlies." Their relationship begins coldly when Della takes credit for a painting done by Chip. But they fall in love after Della restores credit to Chip and after Chip rescues Della from a runaway horse. The book was so popular that it was re-released in hardcover in 1906 with three watercolor illustrations by famed painter Charlie Russell. Chip of the Flying U rocketed Bower to fame, and she wrote an entire series of novels set at the Flying U Ranch.

Bower went on to write 57 Western novels. She died in July 1940 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 68. By the time of her death, her books had sold more than two million copies, not counting her many short stories and articles.

According to Elmer Kelton, Bower's sales dropped when it was revealed that she was female.

Books by B. M. Bower

Meadowlark Basin Cover image

Meadowlark Basin

Family Murder Love Action Adventure America United States

It is set in the American West, featuring elements of adventure, romance, and frontier life. Bower was known for his ability to bring the rugged and untamed West to life, and "Meadowlark Basin" is no exception. The book remains popular among fans of...

The Flying U's Last Stand Cover image

The Flying U's Last Stand

Adventure Novel
History Evolution Loyalty Justice Friendship Struggle Classics

It is a timeless tale of the American West, filled with colorful characters, dramatic showdowns, and plenty of action. Bower's writing is vivid and engaging, painting a picture of life on the frontier and the challenges faced by those who sought to m...

The Range Dwellers Cover image

The Range Dwellers

Adventure Fiction Novel
Nature Loyalty Justice Western fiction Outlaw Pursuit Survival Cowboys Resilience Human Spirit

This is a gripping tale set against the backdrop of the wild and untamed American West. Written in 1907, this classic Western novel explores the challenges and triumphs of a group of pioneers living on the edge of civilization. In a time when the We...

The Uphill Climb Cover image

The Uphill Climb

Fiction Novel
Young Redemption Prejudice Challenges Determination Women Resilience

A young woman with a dream of owning her own ranch must overcome the challenges of a male-dominated industry and her own self-doubts in order to achieve her goals. The Uphill Climb by B. M. Bower is a novel about a young woman named Jeanette Marshal...

Lonesome Land Cover image

Lonesome Land

Fiction Novel
Young Dream Prejudice Self-Discovery Struggle Determination Life Human Spirit

In the harsh and unforgiving land of Lonesome, a young woman must learn to survive on her own. Lonesome Land is a novel by B. M. Bower, first published in 1912. The novel is set in the Canadian prairies, and it follows the story of a young woman nam...

Rowdy of the Cross L Cover image

Rowdy of the Cross L

Fiction Novel
Romance Courage Honor Challenges Freedom Narrative Western fiction Wilderness Depths

In the heart of the rugged frontier, where danger rides as close as the shadow of dusk, emerges "Rowdy of the Cross L" by B. M. Bower—a gripping Western tale that will sweep readers into a world of untamed landscapes and unyielding spirits. Amidst t...

Chip, of the Flying U Cover image

Chip, of the Flying U

Cattleman J.G. Whittemore, owner of the Flying U ranch in Montana, trusts the task of meeting his sister at the train to only one man, Chip. Chip’s not too keen on women. In his experience they come in only a few types: prissy “sweet young thing”, an...

Lure of the Dim Trails Cover image

Lure of the Dim Trails

Phil Thurston was born on the range where the trails are dim and silent under the big sky. It was the place his father loved, the place he had to be. After the death of his father when he was five, his mother brought him back to the city, where he gr...

Long Shadow Cover image

Long Shadow

Billy Boyle, tough, honest, plain dealing, is at home on the range. He knows cattle and horses better than most. Alexander P. Dill, the merchant from Michigan, knows little of livestock and needs Billy’s help to make it in the business. Billy is eage...

Quirt Cover image


Britt Hunter is a small fish in a big pond. His little ranch, the Quirt, has a few hundred head of cattle; the neighboring ranch, the Sawtooth, has tens of thousands. Britt and the other small timers manage to scrape by, but only at the sufferance of...