b. Paul Alfred Rubens, 29 April 1875, London, England, d. 25 February 1917, Falmouth, Cornwall, England. Scion of a rich family, Rubens wrote songs while studying at Oxford University. Although musically untrained, when still in his teens Rubens had a song, ‘The Little Chinchilla’, interpolated into The Shop Girl (1894), a hugely successful show at George Edwardes’ Gaiety Theatre. Rubens continued to write songs and his ‘Me Gettee Outee Velly Quick’ was interpolated into another Edwardes show, San Toy (1899). His additional songs for Floradora (1899) made his name and Edwardes continued to add Rubens’ songs to other shows. Among these were The Messenger Boy (1900), The Toreador (1901), A Country Girl and The Girl From Kays (both 1902), The School Girl (1903), The Blue Moon and The Cingalee (both 1904). Mostly, Rubens’ songs were written in collaboration with others, including his brother Walter Rubens, Landon Ronald and, later, Harry Graham, Percy Greenbank, Howard Talbot and Arthur Wimperis.
Encouraged by the success of individual songs, Rubens wrote book, music and lyrics for three shows, Three Little Maids (1902), Lady Madcap (1904), and Mr Popple Of Ippleton (1905). He collaborated on music and lyrics for The Dairymaids (1906), and on the book for Miss Hook Of Holland (1907), also writing music and lyrics. He wrote music for My Mimosa Maid (1908), book, music and lyrics for Dear Little Denmark (1909), and the following year collaborated on music and lyrics for The Balkan Princess. He collaborated extensively on The Sunshine Girl (1912) and The Girl From Utah (1913) before completing another largely solo effort, 1914’s After The Girl, with some assistance from Greenbank. He wrote the book for Tina (1915) with Graham who also worked with him on lyrics, as did Greenbank. The music was completed in collaboration with Haydn Wood. Throughout his life Rubens was sickly and although in seriously failing health he worked on The Happy Day (1916). He had formed a close attachment with Phyllis Dare who had starred in The Sunshine Girl, a 1914 revival of Miss Hook Of Holland and Tina. They hoped to marry, but aware of his probable early demise abandoned their plans. Although Rubens’ songs admirably suited the light-hearted shows in which they were featured, most were ephemeral. One though, from The Messenger Boy, lived on: ‘Tell Me Pretty Maiden (Are There Any More At Home Like You?)’.