Past event

Hay Festival, 2014

30-31 May 2014

The first two Letters Live events to be held at the Hay Festival were spontaneous and packed affairs. When tickets for the first event went on sale and it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch would be appearing at Hay for the first time, the show sold out in less than half an hour and a second Letters Live date was announced for that same weekend. Both events were a triumph and featured a fantastic array of talent.


The letters read across those two shows included classics written by Richard Avedon, Richard Burton, Frederic Chopin, Iggy Pop, Elvis Presley, William Safire, Matt Stone, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Eudora Welty, EB White and Virginia Woolf. It also saw the first performance by Cumberbatch and his Sherlock co-star Louise Brealey of the much-loved correspondence between Chris Barker and Bessie Moore.


Friday, 30th May 2014


Benedict Cumberbatch

Like a Mighty River

Ted Hughes to His Son



Benedict Cumberbatch and Lisa Dwan


Chris and Bessie



Chris Evans

I Like Words

Robert Pirosh to Various



Geoff Dyer

WW1 letter

Stanley Berger to His Father



Helen Walsh

Sex Does Not Thrive on Monotony

Anaïs Nin to The Collector



Lisa Dwan

You Must know Again my reluctance to marry

Amelia Earhart



Patrick Kennedy

Federal Agent at Large

Elvis Presley



Philippe Sands

For the Sake of Humanity


Patrick Hitler to Roosevelt

part of



Simon Jenkins

I Stand Astounded and Appalled

Charles Dickens



Sophie Hunter

Ought Women Not Be Abolished

Clementine Churchill to The Times


Saturday, 31st May 2014


Antony Grayling

In Event of Moon disaster

William Safire



Benedict Cumberbatch

Hang on My Love and Grow Strong

Iggy Pop to Laurence

I Am Very Real

Kurt Vonnegut to Charles McCarthy



Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey


Chris and Bessie



Ian McEwan

An Idiot of the 33rd Degree

Mark Twain



James Rhodes


Chopin to His Father


John Lloyd

We all feel like that now and then

Sir Archibald Kerr



Lisa Dwan

How could you go ahead of me?

A Widow to Eung-Tae Lee



Louise Brealey

I Can’t Fight Any Longer

Virginia Woolf

How I would like to work for you!

Eudora Welty



Patrick Kennedy

This is my Favourite Memo Ever

Matt Stone



Rob Brydon

You’re off By God

Richard Burton





James Rhodes

Chopin piece




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