Letters Live at the Hay Festival

LLOn Friday 30th and Saturday 31st May Benedict Cumberbatch appeared at the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts to the delight of thousands of fans.

Benedict appeared as part of the Letters Live events which have been inspired by Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note and Simon Garfield’s To the Letter – books looking at the lost art of letter writing.

The two events sold out in record time (the Saturday event which also featured Sherlock’s Louise Brealey (Molly Hooper) was the second fasting selling event in the history of the Hay Festival (only an appearance by Seamus Heaney was able to beat it!).

The events saw Benedict reading letters from people as diverse as Ted Hughes, Kurt Vonnegut and Iggy Pop. He also read letters from serviceman Chris Barker to his sweetheart Bessie Moore who he wrote to throughout World War II. Their beautiful and passionate letters which feature in To the Letter have become huge favourites with fans and it was a delight to see them bought so wonderfully to life by Benedict and Lisa Dwan and Louise Brealey who each played Bessie.

You can see our photos from Friday’s reading in our galleries here. Several press pieces on Benedict ‘s appearance have also been added to our press page.

At the 30th May event Benedict Cumberbatch read the following letters (audio captured by Cumberbatchweb):

Letters from Chris Barker to Bessie Moore

A letter of advice from Ted Hughes to his son Nick (Text)

An utterly heartrending letter from Robert Scott to his soon to be widow Katherine (Text)

Also appearing at the event were Sophie Hunter reading this letter from Clementine Churchill, Patrick Kennedy reading this hilarious letter from Elvis Presley and Chris Evans reading this letter from Robert Pirosh.

The Saturday event saw Benedict joined by Louise Brealey, James Rhodes, Patrick Kennedy (who read this hilarious memo from Southpark creator Matt Stone), John Lloyd who bought the house down with this letter from Sir Archibald Clark Kerr and Rob Brydon. The event was bought to a stirring finale by Benedict reading a fiery letter from Kurt Vonnegut about the importance of books and reading.

Our videos from the event are below:

Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey read letters from Chris Barker and Bessie Moore

Benedict Cumberbatch reads a letter from Iggy Pop (Text)

Rob Brydon reads a letter from Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor (Text)

Louise Brealey reads Virginia Woolf’s heartrending suicide note (text)

Benedict Cumberbatch reads a letter from Richard Avedon (Photo portfolio)

Louise Brealey reads a letter from Eudora Welty (text)

Benedict Cumberbatch reads a letter from Kurt Vonnegut (text)