Jane McDowell

When the commercial success seemed sure, he married Jane McDowell in 1850. It shouldn’t become a happy marriage and we have only a photo of his wife which has been taken after the death of Stephen Foster for a long time.


Perhaps Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair of one of his most beautiful songs, which resulted in 1854, was at all the desperate attempt to bring his unhappy marriage together again.





Foster wanted to live near New York City, the center of the showbusiness. 1854 he moved with his wife and his daughter into a house in Hoboken on the side of the Hudson facing Manhattan.

The move created only disappointments after itself. Within the following years the family swung to and fro between New York City and Pittsburgh. Stephen Foster was finally found alone in New York City seperate of his wife and not in the situation to support her financially.

Foster in Hoboken

He found new partners, e.g. the poet George Cooper on his search for the big hit anyway. One of their common songs My Wife Is A Most Knowing Woman forms a quite satirical counterpoint to the romantic love song which was written by Foster in 1854 for his wife.

Success and fame came quite fast. But Foster was already a failed existence in 1855. His imagination and his creativity fell off even if still good songs arose in the following period; his earnings became lower and lower.

1857 Foster sold back the rights of his songs to the publishers. The copyright in today’s form was unknown. His income therefore went against zero. And the alcohol did his work …

drunken man