Betham, (Mary) Matilda (1776–1852)

Writer and painter of miniatures. Her poetry was admired by Coleridge, who penned the complimentary ‘To Matilda Betham, from a Stranger’. Betham published Elegies (1797) and Poems (1808); Southey advised her about her poetry and sat to her for his portrait in 1808, as Coleridge also did. In 1809 Betham visited Greta Hall and painted Southey’s wife and children. Owing to the unconventionality of her conduct Betham’s family confined her in an asylum in 1819. Meeting her the following year, Southey declared her ‘perfectly sane in her conversation and manner, tho she has written me the maddest letters I ever saw’.