Foster, Stephen C(ollins)
- Deane L. Root
(b Lawrenceville, now part of Pittsburgh, July 4, 1826; d New York, Jan 13, 1864). American songwriter of Scots-Irish descent.
He was born the ninth child of William Barclay Foster, a businessman and sometime politician, and Eliza Clayland Tomlinson. Though neither parent was musical, their daughters' education in voice and piano and Mrs Foster's subscriptions to literary magazines brought music and poetry into the home. The details of his life and career are sketchy. His first biography, an introduction to a collected edition of his songs, written by his brother Morrison (1896), offered impressions that have been repeated unquestioningly. As the keeper of the family papers, Morrison retained only selected correspondence and manuscripts, destroyed embarrassing items, and portrayed the songwriter as a naive genius, devoted to his parents, a dreamer and hopelessly inept at business. Emerson's more recent biography (1997) helps relate Foster to the other cultural figures and movements of his era in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and New York....