Letters Live

On 10 December 2013 Benedict Cumberbatch appeared at Letters Live – the first in a series of planned events being run as fundraisers to raise funds for The Reading Agency.

The event bought together two great writers – Shaun Usher who hosts the wonderful site Letters of Note and has written a book compiling his favourite letters & Simon Garfield the author of To the Letter.

The books celebrate the somewhat lost art of letter writing.

At the event Benedict Cumberbatch and Kerry Fox read incredible beautiful letters (featured in To the Letter) from a signalman Christopher to his love Bessie during the Second World War (you can read some here). The letters were beautiful and deeply romantic causing many a lady in the room to swoon! Benedict also read this deeply heartbreaking letter from Alan Turing to Norman Routledge.

Other performers included:

Nick Cave who sang Love Letter & read his own rejection letter to MTV.

Gillian Anderson who read this beautiful letter from Katharine Hepburn to Spencer Tracy and this hilarious piece from Dorothy Parker to Seward Collins

Neil Gaiman who read a heartrending letter from Kurt Vonnegurt to his family about his experience in the Second World War.

James Rhodes read a letter from Beethoven and played the Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s sonata No.15 in D Pastoral.

Colin Salmon who read a speech which would have been read out in the event of the Apollo 11 mission ending in tragedy and beautifully read the single best letter on the Letters of Note site- that from Jourdon Anderson to Colonel P.H.Anderson – his former slave master.

Juliet Stevenson reduced me to tears reading Virginia Woolf’s suicide note and was very funny reading Eudora Welty’s application letter to the New Yorker.

Peter Serafinowicz read this adorable letter from David Bowie in response to his first fan letter from the US.

DBC Pierre read this incredible letter from Charles Bukowski about censorship

Bruce Robinson read a letter from Charles Dickens to The Times decrying the horrors of public executions and a letter from aspiring screenwriter Robert Pirosh

Matt Berry read this ghoulish letter reputed to have been written by Jack the Ripper