In 1804, a kind of madness descended upon Britain. A thirteen-year-old boy, William-Henry West Betty, arrived and, in a seeming instant, took Ireland, Scotland, and England by storm. Women were fixated on his beauty, which "never fail[ed] to gratify." Men referred to him as the "personification of Hamlet." Crowds were so intent upon securing tickets for Betty's performances that officers were called out to stop rioters in the streets. What attracted audiences to this prodigy, why did his popularity fade, and why was he all but forgotten in a few short years? This study argues that, in a Britain tottered by Napoleonic war and Irish rebellion, the collaborative activity of endorsing a child actor provided much-needed unity to a beleaguered and fragmented society.