Request Checked Items

Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram

Robert Rubens:

An Inventory of His Papers in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Rubens, Robert, 1937-1998
Title: Robert Rubens Papers
Dates: 1952-1990
Extent: 7 boxes, 1 oversize folder, 1 galley folder (2.9 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of Robert Rubens consist of handwritten and typed manuscripts, loose notes and notebooks, printed materials, galley proofs, correspondence, clippings, and photographs.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC03-A3
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Acquisition: Purchase (R12577), 1992
Processed by: Rebecca Romanchuk, Patti Wardell, 2000; Stephen Mielke, 2003

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Robert Rubens was born in 1937 as Robert Gilbert Ruben--adding the 's' to his name later in life. He attended high school at the Quaker-run Friends Select School in Philadelphia, serving on the school's newspaper and the editorial board for the school's literary magazine. He graduated in 1955, then attended Bard College in New York State. After graduating from Bard he worked for a short period in a Philadelphia book store before moving to London in 1961 to pursue a literary career.
In London Rubens worked as a reader for a publishing firm and as an editor on the Transatlantic Review. In 1963 his first short story to appear in print, "Two Weeks beyond Shoreditch," was published in Winters Tale 9. That same year he edited an anthology of short stories entitled Voices and worked to complete his first novel The Operator (1964).
In 1965 Rubens began collaborating with the famed Russian dancer and choreographer Leonide Massine as editor of Massine's autobiography My Life in Ballet (1968). He continued to publish short stories and wrote articles and reviews that appeared in Auction, Contemporary Review, PEN Broadsheet, The Queen Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph, and Vogue.
Rubens' second novel, The Cosway Miniature, did not appear until 1980, but was soon followed by four more novels: A Night at the Odeon (1981), Artist Unknown (1985), A Shadow between Us (1987), and North of the Park (1990).
Rubens died in London of pancreatic cancer in 1998 at the age of 61.

The papers of Robert Rubens consist of handwritten and typed manuscripts, loose notes and notebooks, printed materials, galley proofs, correspondence, clippings, and photographs. The papers are organized in two series: I Works, 1952-1990, nd (6 boxes); and II. Other Papers, 1964-1987, nd (1 box). All materials are in English and are generally in good condition.

Series I. Works, 1952-1990, nd

The Works series is divided into two subseries: A. Fiction and B. Non-fiction. The Fiction subseries contains the bulk of the materials in Rubens' papers and includes working notebooks, loose notes, and handwritten and typed manuscripts for five of his six published novels: The Cosway Miniature (1980), A Night at the Odeon (1981), Artist Unknown (1985), A Shadow between Us (1987), and North of the Park (1990). Material for his first published novel, The Operator (1964), consists only of dust jackets and a preliminary leaf. Rubens' first published short story, "Two Weeks beyond Shoreditch" (1963), is documented only with photocopies of two published versions. Also represented are eight other works of varying lengths and two complete but unidentified pieces.
The Non-fiction subseries consists primarily of drafts and proofs of articles and book reviews, many of which were published in Contemporary Review and PEN Broadsheet (later PEN Magazine). Also present are materials relating to My Life in Ballet (1968), an autobiography of the Russian dancer and choreographer Leonide Massine. Rubens collaborated with Massine on the book, and the materials are especially revealing of Rubens' preliminary research. Included are journal entries of Rubens' stay at Massine's home in Naples, Italy, in 1965; letters between Massine and Rubens giving details of Massine's life; and ballet programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings relating to Massine's work. The manuscript for the autobiography is represented by a handwritten draft of only one chapter, although related notes are located in Series II. Other Papers under the heading "Notes and Notebooks." Of particular note in the Massine material is a 1960 choreography script for his Comedia Umana, and Massine's 1952 synopsis and notes for the ballet Donald of the Burthens. These are also the earliest dated materials in Rubens' papers, with the majority of items dating from the mid 1960s to the late 1980s.
Materials are arranged alphabetically in both subseries. Handwritten notes and manuscripts drafts similar to those in the Works series are also found with the notes and notebooks located in Series II.

Series II. Other Papers, 1964-1987, nd

The majority of Series II is comprised of five notebooks containing handwritten outlines, drafts, and notes related to various Rubens works. Included are materials for unidentified and unpublished pieces. Each notebook is undated and contains writings for more than one work. Several works, such as My Life in Ballet, are represented in more than one notebook.
Also in the series are incoming and a few outgoing letters, mostly related to Ruben's literary works and dating from 1965 to 1987. Rubens' correspondence with Leonide Massine is located in the Works series under My Life in Ballet. Correspondence and other materials related to Rubens' involvement with PEN is filed in Series II under the PEN heading. Arrangement in the series is alphabetical by subject heading.