Past event

Letters Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2023

16 November 2023

Letters Live returned to the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 16th November 2023 for a very special show in our tenth anniversary year!


Previous shows at the Royal Albert Hall have seen such talent as Gillian Anderson, Olivia Colman, Taika Waititi, Thom Yorke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Corrin, Cynthia Erivo, Jude Law, Florence Welch and Laura Mvula grace the stage, to name just a few.


Letters Live is a celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence. Each show always features a completely different array of great performers, reading remarkable letters written over the centuries and from around the world.


One of the joys of Letters Live is that you never know who is going to take to the stage or what letter they are going to bring alive. The result is a glorious event like no other and a truly unforgettable journey through time.


Our year-long global partnership with Montblanc, the luxury Maison with its origins in writing culture, launched publicly at this show. Find out more here.



Running order

Thursday 16th November 2023


Benedict Cumberbatch


The spectacle sickened me

George Bernard Shaw to The Times



Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse



Olivia Colman



Lydia Davis to funeral parlour


Here is a list of other licences I do not hold

Jackie Morris to the BBC



Stephen Fry


I look forward to hearing from you GURRRRRL

Joe Lycett to Suella Braverman


We are fighting for the very soul of the world

Nick Cave to Leon and Charlie



Vivian Oparah


I ain’t never seen nothing like it

Nina Simone to Andy Stroud


I would like to apologise on the behalf of mankind

Benedict Winter to a walnut tree



Will Sharpe


I like words

Robert Pirosh to Various


Seat 29E

A customer to Continental Airlines



Louise Brealey


Keith the Giant Meat

Cynthia Albritton to Keith Richards



Harnaam Kaur


You will show people what beauty truly is
Harnaam Kaur to her younger self



Sanjeev Bhaskar


Spike Milligan to his parents


What a bawling and a tearing of hair there will be!

Charles Dodgson Sr. to Charles Dodgson Jr.



Minnie Driver


I will be there in the trees
Kathleen Keyes Irish Times


You wouldn’t want waxing to go wrong, would you?
Hannah Scorer to Boots



Gillian Anderson 


Sex does not thrive on monotony
Anais Nin to The Collector


Why are children ever born singly?
Katherine Mansfield Anne Rice



Rob Delaney


Shame on you!
Pliny the Younger to Septitius Clarus


This guy is really a bum
Walter Becker to Rudy Giuliani



Jodie Whittaker


Everything begins again
Peter Capaldi to a Doctor Who fan


Don’t ever forget: every day matters
Heather McManamy to her friends and family



Angelique Kidjo


Don’t let anyone define who you are
Angelique Kidjo to the girls of the world



Woody Harrelson


He is not a forgiving cat
John Cheever to Josie Herbst


There’s no hope in war
Kurt Vonnegut to the US government



Tobias Menzies


I am not greatly troubled by fans nowadays
Evelyn Waugh to Nancy Mitford



Benedict Cumberbatch & Louise Brealey


My Dear Bessie

Chris Barker & Bessie Moore






Tom Odell, plus octet
Black Friday


Angelique Kidjo


The Spirituals Choir
Wade in the Water


Kae Tempest
People’s Faces



Credits: Cynthia Albritton to Keith Richards, © Cynthia Albrittain; Chris Barker to Bessie Moore, from: Chris Barker & Bessie Moore, My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters, Canongate (2015). Copyright © Peter Barker and Irena Souroup; Walter Becker to Rudy Giuliani, © Estate of Walter Becker; Peter Capaldi to a Doctor Who fan, © Peter Capaldi; Nick Cave to Leon and Charlie, © Nick Cave; John Cheever to Josie Herbst, Copyright © Benjamin Cheever 1988, used by permission of The Wylie Agency (UK) Limited; Lydia Davis to a Funeral parlour, from: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, © Lydia Davis, 2009; Harnaam Kaur to her younger self, © Harnaam Kaur; Kathleen Keyes to Irish Times, © Kathleen Keyes; Angelique Kidjo to Girls of the World, © Angelique Kidjo; Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, © 2023 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Joe Lycett to Suella Braverman, © Joe Lycett; Katherine Mansfield to Anne Rice, © the Estate of Katherine Mansfield, used by permission of the Society of Authors; Heather McManamy to Friends and family, © Heather McManamy; Spike Milligan to his parents, © Spike Milligan Productions, 1978; Jackie Morris to the BBC, © Jackie Morris, used by permission of David Higham Associates; Anais Nin to The Collector, From: The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 3. © The Anais Nin Trust; Robert Pirosh to Various, © Estate of Robert Pirosh; Hannah Scorer to Boots, © Hannah Scorer; Nina Simone to Andy Stroud, © Nina Simone Charitable Trust, courtesy of Steven Ames Brown; Kurt Vonnegut to the US government, Copyright ©1967, Kurt Vonnegut, used by permission of The Wylie Agency (UK)Limited.; Evelyn Waugh to Nancy Mitford, Copyright © 1952, Evelyn Waugh, used by permission of The Wylie Agency (UK) Limited; Benedict Winter to a walnut tree, © Benedict C Winter from the “Letters to the Earth” book and campaign