William West – Theatre in miniature

William West (1783 – 1854) was a London haberdasher but is much better known for inventing the toy theatre. The idea grew from a sideline he began as an education for children. He had sheets printed up showing characters from plays that were running in London theatres at the time. He soon learned that children were colouring in the sheets and cutting out the characters to perform their own plays.

He adopted the idea and began producing miniature theatres in a variety of styles and the craze took off – becoming one of the most popular pastimes of the Regency period.