Bowden was educated at Ardingly College.
He started his career as a sales executive. He served as a councillor on Wandsworth Borough Council from 1956 to 1961 and as national chairman of Young Conservatives from 1960 to 1961. He received an MBE in 1961. He entered the House of Commons on his third attempt in 1970 by gaining the Brighton Kemptown seat from the Labour Party. He remained Member of Parliament for the seat until his defeat by Labour's Desmond Turner in the 1997 election. As an MP, he acted as a parliamentary consultant for Southern Water. He was a member of the Council of Europe from 1987 to 1997.
He was accused of failing to register an election donation of £5,319 from lobbyist Ian Greer, who acted for Mohammed Al Fayed as well as business interests with the House of Fraser. In recent years he has become something of a regular on the poker circuit. He also plays chess and golf. From 1975 to 1997, he served as national president of the Captive Animals Protection Society. He is a patron of the Sussex & Kent ME/CFS Society. He is President of Brighton's Royal British Legion branch. He has also acted as Vice President of the League Against Cruel Sport.
He married Benita Napier in 1970.
- Dare We Trust Them - A New Vision for Europe (2005)
- Debrett's biography
- The Guardian profile
- Siobhan Ryan, Ex-MP's wife to sue hospital over fall, The Argus, 26 September 2008
- Committee Powerless to Act Against "Sleaze" MPs, BBC
- Anthony Bevins, New MPs declare multitude of directorships: The House of Commons' latest register of members' business interests is perused by Anthony Bevins, Political Editor, The Independent, 13 January 1993
- Paul Kelbie, Former Tory MP is flushed with success as poker player , The Independent, 17 June 2006
- Kent & Sussex ME/CFS Society
- Sam Underwood, Betty's 40 years of fundraising recognised, The Argus, 28 December 2007
- David Selby, Earthkind: Teachers' Handbook on Humane Education, Trentham Books, 1995, p. 198 
- Times Guide to the House of Commons 1997
- Who's Who 2007
- Paul Kelbie, The Independent (London), Jun 17, 2006
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown