William Henry West Betty (William Henry West Betty)

William Henry West Betty

Child actor, starred in “The Young Roscius.” Perhaps the first, and certainly one of the brightest, of the child prodigies whose brief careers reflect their dependence on fashion. Building public anticipation with a series of highly successful provincial appearances, theYoung Rosciusâ burst on the London stage in 1804 aged thirteen. Within weeks he was heading the cast at both Drury Lane and Covent Garden, an unprecedented dual career, playing Hamlet, Richard III and other adult roles to capacity houses virtually every night of the week. When he fell sick of exhaustion, doctors had to post public bulletins, as they would for royalty, to satisfy the crowds. For two seasons, Betty was the fashion; he made his (and his father’s fortune), and was the subject of countless prints, medals and memorabilia. Two large portraits of him hung in the Royal Academy’s 1805 exhibition. With the mania dying, he took himself to college at Cambridge. He made several comeback attempts between 1812 and 1824 before retiring to comfortable private life. Though his contemporary Macready found him a talented professional, he did not meet with approval from a public which preferred to remember the meteor which the boy Roscius had been. His son Henry (1818-97) followed him onto the stage with much less success.


  • September, 13, 1791
  • England


  • August, 08, 1874
  • England


  • Highgate Cemetery (East)
  • England

2156 profile views