Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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104             STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
Mr. Cooper is under the impression that, although in destitution himself, he was at this time supporting his wife and daughter in Pittsburgh. He was very fond of the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, and recited long extracts from it with thrilling effect.
Young Mr. Cooper was something of a poet, and the two formed a partnership. The first of the songs of which Cooper wrote the words was published in 1863 and in less than a year they wrote and published eighteen. These songs they sold for whatever they could get for them, which was never much. The song "Willie Has Gone to the War" was written one morning, and after it was finished, Stephen rolled it up and tucking it under his arm, said, "Well, where shall we. put this one?" Cooper says that he remembers it was a cold, raw, winter day, snow falling drearily, and the pavements covered with slush. Stephen's shoes had holes in them and he had no overcoat, but he seemed oblivious to discomfort and misery. As the author and composer proceeded up Broadway, they passed Wood's Music Hall, and the proprietor, standing in the lobby, hailed them as they passed with the question, "What have you got there, Steve?" The song was sold then and there, Wood paying $10 cash, $15 more to be paid at the box-office that evening.
Stephen called Cooper "the left wing of the song fac­tory," and most of their songs were written and sold in very much the same manner as "Willie Has Gone to the War." They sold all of their songs for cash, receiving no royalties on any of them. This was not important to Cooper, who was a youth of about twenty, living at home with his parents, and song-writing was something of a pastime for him, but to Stephen, entirely dependent upon his songs for livelihood, it meant destitution. His clothes were poor and sadly worn, a fact to which he seemed totally indifferent. Cooper says that on several occasions friends gave him clothes, but usually Stephen







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