The American Civil War Song About a Maiden
Aura Lee, an American song about a maiden, was composed by George R. Poulton and William W. Fosdick in 1861. The song was initially shown as Aura Lea, and not Aura Lee, in the original sheet music. After its publication, the American Civil War soon started and it became popular to soldier on both sides of the disagreement.
The tune of the song was used and slightly changed in the 1956 song "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson.
The song rapidly became well known in the 1860s and was performed by various groups in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other U.S. areas. It was even performed by glee clubs and professional performers in 1920s.
Poulton, an English musician and composer, was born in a village in the United Kingdom in 1828. He was baptized in St Mary's church and remained in the UK until he was seven. In 1838, he emigrated with his parents to New York. Poulton became a celebrated musician. In 1867, six years after composing the melody of Aura Lee, George R. Poulton died, aged thirty-eight.
William W. Fosdick was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to parents Thomas K. Fosdick and Julia Drake. He was an American lawyer, poet, writer and song lyricist. He wrote the original lyrics to the song Aura Lee. He studied law after graduating from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He first set up a law practice in Covington, Kentucky and returned to Cincinnati to enter into a law partnership. He then moved his law practice to New York City in 1850s. In 1855, Fosdik published a compilation of poems. After staying for seven years in New York Fosdick went back to Cincinnati and became the editor of The Sketch Club in 1860. He died there in 1862 at the age of thirty-seven.