Thomas Betterton 1635-1710
Thomas BETTERTON 1635-1710
Born in Westminster, son of Matthew Betterton, under-cook to Charles I. After a period of apprenticeship to a bookseller, possibly John Rhodes, he became an actor, first appearing on the stage around 1660;he joined the Duke's Company, beconing its co-manager in 1668. In 1682 he led a merger with the King's Company; the new United Company continued for a decade or so, until Betterton and others broke away in 1695 to create a new group based at the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields. He is widely recognised as a leading actor-manager of his generation, who was impressive on stage but also a leading figure in developing theatre as a business; he wrote, or adapted, numerous plays himself.
Betterton's library was auctioned in London after his death; a sale catalogue survives from 24.8.1710, and newspaper advertisements suggest that a further sale took place in December 1710, with no surviving catalogue. The August catalogue contains (546 lots, plus prints and paintings, divided mainly by format, largely in English, but including a number of French and Italian books; the catalogue has been edited by David Roberts (see below).
Roberts notes that Betterton did not apparently mark his books, and none can be identified today; he speculates that some of his French books may today be in the British Library.
- Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues 1676-1800. St Philip, 2010.
- Milhous, Judith. "Betterton, Thomas (bap. 1635, d. 1710), actor and theatre manager." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Roberts, D. (ed), Pinacotheca Bettertoneana: the library of a seventeenth-century actor, 2013.