Letters Live at Union Chapel

14th - 15th July 2017

In July of 2017, Letters Live’s first London shows of the year took place at the remarkable Union Chapel, a working church and award-winning venue which has been open to the public since being saved from demolition 25 years ago. Over the course of two evenings an impressive array of talent took to the pulpit to breathe life into letters both new and old–those readings are listed below.

Our chosen literacy charity for these 2 shows was First Story, to whom we subsequently donated £12,100.

The Shows


Kelvin Jones
Call You Home

Colin Firth
This is quite true
Evelyn Waugh to Laura Waugh

Michael Palin
Two legs are an extravagance
George Bernard Shaw to John Ervine

Noma Dumezweni & Ophelia Lovibond
I will treasure your letter
J. K. Rowling to Sacia Flowers

Simon Callow
Ye have made me such a pisser
Lord Edmund Howard to Lady Lisle

Taron Egerton
I have had my eye on you
Simon Fallowfield to Mary Foster

Clint Dyer
You killed my cat
Guy Davenport to the drivers of Lexington

Rob Brydon
Life itself is life
D. H. Lawrence to Katharine Mansfield

Noma Dumezweni
Thinking of you to the end
Rose Schlösinger to Marianne Schlösinger

Jon Culshaw
My letters are the greatest
Terry Vaught to Tampa Bay Times

Michael Palin
A strange species we are
John Steinbeck to Adlai Stevenson

Colin Firth
You will not have my hatred
Antoine Leiris to his wife’s killers

Clint Dyer
I’m still here, trying to make it
Jimi Hendrix to his father

Taron Egerton
Darling, I love you
Dylan Thomas to Pamela Johnson

Ophelia Lovibond
Everyone has to be a child
Jessica Morley to The Economist

Michael Palin
To My Grandchildren
Tony Benn to his grandchildren

Simon Callow
Nothing is ours except time
Lucius Annaeus Seneca to Lucilius Junior

Rob Brydon
Love and garlic
Groucho Marx to Chico Marx

Noma Dumezweni
Straighten up and fly right, Banky!
Billie Holliday to Tallulah Bankhead

Jon Culshaw
Save the land of your birth
Nicholas Cummins to the Duke of Wellington

Colin Firth
I do occasionally eat
Lucian Freud to Lynn Barber

Simon Callow
Get at the very heart of it
Ludwig van Beethoven to Emilie

Ophelia Lovibond
Along with this letter comes a play
Shelagh Delaney to Joan Littlewood

Rob Brydon
How beautiful!
Salvador Dalí to Federico García Lorca

Colin Firth & Taron Egerton
I am awfully comfortable
The Kiplings

Noma Dumezweni
For my Diego
Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera

Jon Culshaw
New rubbish dialogue
Alec Guinness to Anne Kaufman

Clint Dyer
Diversity guarantees our cultural survival
Martin Scorsese to the New York Times

Kelvin Jones
Message in a bottle
The Police


Izzie Yardley

By your side

Amanda Abbington
Dear Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher to Princess Leia

John Simm
He is a most exemplary young man
Sidney Lanier to Charley Lanier

Rob Rinder
The grandest looking child
Alfred Tennyson to Robert Monteith

Zawe Ashton
A few matters of etiquette
Fanny Burney to Hetty Burney

Nick Moran
It’s the trip of a lifetime
Buzz Aldrin to Barry Goldman

Lemn Sissay
Tears don’t flow the same in space
Frank Culbertson to Earth

Alan Carr
We are ridiculous
Kenneth Williams to Andrew Hathaway

Amanda Abbington & John Simm
Are you supposed to be normal?
Harold Pinter to a confused theater goer

Ashley Walters
In Brotherhood
Claude Eatherly to Reverend N.

Rob Rinder
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
Virginia O’Hanlon to the editor of The Sun

Zawe Ashton
Janis Joplin lives!
Janis Joplin to her parents

Nick Moran
He has nothing left but his poker
A. T. Harris to Atlantic City Railroad

Amanda Abbington
The survivors will envy the dead
Jacqueline Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev

John Simm
A man has to BE something
Hunter S. Thompson to Hume Logan

Alan Carr
Seat 29E
A customer to Continental Airlines

Amanda Abbington
Between Death and Perfection
Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West

Nick Moran
People simply empty out
Charles Bukowski to John Martin

Zawe Ashton
We are the gift
Melissa Harris Perry to Richard Mourdock

Ashley Walters
I am unable to accept your rejection
Paul Devlin to numerous colleges

Rob Rinder
Sleep well, my love
Brian Keith to Dave

Amanda Abbington
Meeting Picasso
Edith Sitwell to Cecil Beaton

Alan Carr
What do you want from life?
David Lavelle to The Telegraph

Nick Moran
You are your father
Saul Bellow to Martin Amis

John Simm
The Cat Ranch
Jack Lemmon to Walter Mattau

Alan Carr & Rob Rinder
You Babylonian scullion
Mehmed IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks

Nick Moran
Joe Strummer to Mark Hagen

Lemn Sissay
Brown is as pretty as white
W. E. B Du Bois to Yolande Du Bois

Izzie Yardley
So Easy

Readers included:

  • Colin Firth
  • Michael Palin
  • Noma Dumezweni
  • Ophelia Lovibond
  • Simon Callow
  • Taron Egerton
  • Clint Dyer
  • Rob Brydon
  • Jon Culshaw
  • Amanda Abbington
  • John Simm
  • Rob Rinder
  • Zawe Ashton
  • Nick Moran
  • Lemn Sissay
  • Alan Carr
  • Ashley Walters

Music by:

Kelvin Jones and Izzie Yardley

Photography by:

Craig Sugden