Past event

Wilderness Festival, 2018

4-5 August 2018

Letters Live returned to Oxfordshire in 2018 to entertain the crowds at the picturesque Wilderness Festival following a magnificent debut in 2017. During the first weekend of August, as headliners of the festival’s Talks and Debates programme, Letters Live descended upon the stunning Atrium stage to seduce the audience with, as ever, a cast of readers and letters certain to surprise and delight.


Letters Live has been wowing audiences since its low-key inception in 2013, and to this day its mission has remained the same: to harness the unrivalled power of old-fashioned correspondence and breathe new life into the stories contained within letters with the help of an ever-changing cast of some of the most acclaimed performing talent from around the world.


Past Letters Live performers have included such luminaries as Benedict Cumberbatch, Olivia Colman, Jude Law, Juliet Stevenson, Russell Brand, Kylie Minogue, Gillian Anderson, Nick Cave, Thandie Newton, Riz Ahmed, Oscar Isaac, Jarvis Cocker, Benjamin Clementine, Carey Mulligan and Noel Fielding. Letters Live is inspired by Shaun Usher’s best-selling Letters of Note, and by Simon Garfield’s To the Letter.


Wilderness is an award-winning festival of music, food, arts, learning, literature and rejuvenation which began in 2011 amongst the lakes, forests and parkland of Oxfordshire’s exquisite Cornbury Estate.


Saturday, 4th August 2018


Ashley Walters

That is not the way to play football

David Hickey to Independent



Ferdinand Kingsley

I did as you told me

James Joyce to Nora Barnacle



Ferdinand Kingsley and Sir Ben Kingsley

You Babylonian scullion

Mehmed IV to Zaporozhian Cossacks



John Lloyd

A lousy proposition

Evelyn Waugh to Laura Herbert



Jordan Stephens

Yours are kept forever

Thomas Bailey Aldirch to Edward S. Morse



Louise Brealey

And now I must dress to receive the planets, dear

Willa Cather to Edith Lewis



Niamh McGrady

Thank you, and I hope you choke

Beatles fan to Nike

Oh my ass burns like fire!

Mozart to Marianne



Olivia Colman

That’s Deadwood for you

Calamity Jane to Her daughter

Dear Sir

Sarah-Louise Jordan to An admirer



Shappi Khorsandi

Have a Happy Period

Wendi Aarons to James Thatcher



Shappi Khorsandi and Jordan Stephens

Are you supposed to be normal?

Harold Pinter to A Theatregoer



Sir Ben Kingsley

O hogtied friend

WS Graham to Roger Hilton


Sunday, 5th August 2018


Alexander Armstrong

She is bald

Arthur Conan Doyle to His Mother

Dear Empress Hotel

Nick Burchill to Empress Hotel



Ashley Walters

I’m sick thinking of the whole mess

Ralph Ellison to His Mother

On the uses of books

Ford Madox Ford to Isidor Schneider



Hassan Akkad

We are just ordinary people

Hossein to the People of Europe


Jordan Stephens

Picture the scene

Rik Mayall to Bob Geldof

Now her soul is free

Ram Dass to Steve and Anita Isser



Louise Brealey

I could never describe it

Nellie Walcroft to Clara



Niamh McGrady

You know who you are (Daft Punk complaint)

Australian to Their Neighbour



Olivia Colman


Lady Elizabeth Compton to Lord William Compton

You may not send us your verses

Angus and Robertson to FC Meyer



Ruby Wax

You are an inspiration

Melissa Rivers to Joan Rivers



Ruby Wax and Niamh McGrady

What should I do?

Frustrated to Abby






Tom Odell

The Letter
Jubilee Road