At once a responsible and familiar type of biography, this life of Stephen Foster gives more time to the reader's- age years but carries through to the bitter end of the composer's life. Miss Douty points up the struggle of Stephen to give himself to music in the face of a practical, disapproving father and contrary public opinion, indicates the home ties that were so necessary to him, and relates the inevitable dreamy schoolboy and bully-beating episode. The definite facts are here from the attending of Athens Academy where his first song was heard on to the minstrelsy and meeting with Jane McDowell at the Knights of the S.T.; the bookkeeping in Cincinnati; the publishing of songs by the infamous Peters (sarcasm on this point seems above the reader's head but is balanced by open discussion later); the success of ""Oh, Susanna"", marriage, impecuniousness, the downhill route in New York. The life of the river, minstrelsy, current events -- the Pittsburgh fire and Clayton's balloon, the escape of a bonded boy are all given space in a biography that sometimes seems forced in episode and vernacular but conveys a good deal in a once-removed way.