Master Grossmith

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William Robert Grossmith
Reading, England
OccupationActor and prosthetic Limb manufacturer

William Robert Grossmith, also known as Master Grossmith (1818–1899), was a 19th-century child actor, eldest son of William Grossmith, who then established a second career as a maker of prosthetic limbs.


Grossmith was known as the 'Infant Roscius' or 'Young Roscius' as he began acting at a very young age. In 1825 a pamphlet was published publicising this prodigy child actor with the title The Life of the Celebrated Infant Roscius, Master Grossmith of Reading, Berks, only seven years and a quarter Old.[1] Another, retitled to not yet nine years of age was published in 1827.[2][3]

He also made appearances with a younger sibling Master B Grossmith.[4] After retiring from the stage he made a second career out of prosthetic limb manufacture.[5] In fact, so well-respected were William Grossmith' products that in 1856 he published a book on the subject: Amputations and Artificial Limbs (or Grossmith on Amputations, Artificial Legs, Hands &c.)[6][7]


An artificial left arm made by W. R. Grossmith.

A painting of Grossmith as Richard in William Shakespeare's Richard III by G. Hancock is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.[8] A print of Grossmith as a child is in the British Museum collection.[9]

Artificial limbs made by Grossmith in his later career are held in the Science Museum.[10]


  1. ^ E. C. B (1825). The Life of the Celebrated Infant Roscius Master Grossmith of Reading, Berks, Only Seven Years and a Quarter Old. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  2. ^ The Life and Theatrical Excursions of William Robert Grossmith the juvenile actor, not yet 9 years of age. M Cowslade & Co. 1827.
  3. ^ "Child prodigy actor prepares to retire as he headlines in Stockton". BBC. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Master Grossmith". Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Artificial Limb". Science Museum. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  6. ^ "A London Family". A London Family. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  7. ^ Grossmith, William Robert (1857). Amputations and Artificial Limbs. London. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  8. ^ "William Robert Goldsmith". Artuk. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  9. ^ "William Grossmith". British Museum. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Master Grossmith". Science Museum Group. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
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