George Dance, c. 1900
George Dance, c. 1900

Sir George Dance (14 October 1857 – 22 October 1932) was an English lyricist and librettist in the 1890s and an important theatrical manager at the beginning of the 20th century.

Dance wrote several hit musicals, including The Gay Parisienne (1894) and A Chinese Honeymoon (1899), one of the most successful musicals in history until the 1940s. In the early years of the 20th century, he became one of the most successful theatrical managers in the United Kingdom, managing many productions both on the West End and on tour.


Dance was born in Nottingham, England, the son of Isaac Dance (1824–1880) a pipe maker. Dance was educated at the National School, Sneinton, Nottingham. He married Grace Spong in 1898, and the couple produced two sons (Eric and James) and a daughter (Phyllis, later Mrs. Bertram Merritt).[1] His son Eric, who died in a prison camp during the World War II, was responsible for the building of the Oxford Playhouse, which opened in 1938.


Early in his career, he was a journalist[2] and prolific songwriter. Some of his most famous songs were for the music hall, including "Girls are the Ruin of Men", one of Vesta Tilley's successes, "Come Where Me Booze is Cheaper", "Angels without Wings" (also sung by Tilly), and "His Lordship Winked at the Counsel" (sung by Harry Rickards).

Poster from The Girl from Paris, 1897
Poster from The Girl from Paris, 1897

In the 1890s Dance turned to writing libretti for light operas and musical comedies and producing musical comedies. His works included:

2nd Anniversary Souvenir of A Chinese Honeymoon
2nd Anniversary Souvenir of A Chinese Honeymoon

Dance made a fortune on A Chinese Honeymoon and its historic run. He then became one of the most successful theatrical managers in the United Kingdom, often having as many as 24 companies on tour at once. He was behind the scenes financially at many of the big West End theatres in the days preceding the World War I, including the Adelphi Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre, London, Daly's Theatre and the Prince of Wales Theatre. He also directed theatre companies at the Alhambra Theatre and the Kingsway Theatre and many Stoll Theatres Corporation productions.[5]

Dance was knighted in 1923 in recognition of his services to the theatre, which included a gift of £30,000 for the reconstruction of the Old Vic and stabilisation of that theatre as a permanent Shakespeare repertory theatre.[7]

Dance died at home in London in 1932 at the age of 75. His estate was valued at over 150,000 pounds.[8]


  1. ^ The Times Deaths, 27 October 1932, p. 15, col. D
  2. ^ Short, Ernest Henry and Arthur Compton-Rickett Ring up the Curtain (1938; 1970 Ayer Publishing) ISBN 0-8369-5299-5 p. 89
  3. ^ "Dance, Sir George", Who Was Who 1920–2007, A & C Black, online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2007, accessed 3 December 2008
  4. ^ Ernest Henry Short; Arthur Compton-Rickett (1970). Ring Up the Curtain. Books for Libraries Press. ISBN 0-8369-5299-5.
  5. ^ a b "Sir George Dance", The Times obituaries, 24 October 1932, p. 9, col. B
  6. ^ Information about Lord Tom Noddy Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Eliakim Littell; Robert S. Littell; Making of America Project (1922). The Living Age ... The Living Age Co. Inc.
  8. ^ "Wills and Bequests", The Times, 28 January 1933, p. 13, col D