Past event

Wilderness Festival, 2023

5-6 August 2023

Letters Live returned to the gorgeous Oxfordshire countryside for our 5th appearance at Wilderness Festival in August 2023.


Headlining the festival’s Talks and Debates programme, we will brought a top secret cast of exceptional readers, to breathe life into some of the greatest correspondence ever written. Read on to see which incredible letters our talented performers including Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taron Egerton, Louise Brealey, Noma Dumezweni, Emma Corrin and Dolly Alderton read to a packed audience in the Atrium.


Through this show we supported Choose Love who are the charity partner of the festival and close friends of Letters Live. We are proud to be able to support their vital work, and have done since 2016. See more on Choose Love here.



Saturday 5th August 2023


Claire Foy


Alphabetti Spaghetti

Mrs J. Blackford to Viz


Not a line from you on my Birthday!

Jane Carlyle to Thomas Carlyle



Benedict Cumberbatch


It would be easier and pleasanter to drown myself

George Bernard Shaw to Various


I am left in quite the quandary!

Joe Lycett to Mark Carne



Sanjeev Bhaskar


I write you from the regions of hell

Robert Burns Mrs Riddel


Nothing else matters

Peter Thompson to Clare Venables



Louise Brealey


Life isn’t a World Wrestling Federation Smackdown

K.A. Applegate to her readers


We hear that you have found a new Red Ape

Virginia Woolf to her sister



Jason Isaacs


An idiot of the 33rd degree

Mark Twain to Salesman


Short gap for love-making

Humphry House to Madeliene



Noma Dumezweni


Dear Us

Toni Morrison to Black women


Give women the vote

Bertha Brewster to Daily Telegraph




Ferdinand Kingsley


Good-day, little rascal, pussy-pussy, little turned-up nose

Mozart to his wife


Gandhi was a great spiritual leader…

Jerry Emery to Guardian



Dolly Alderton


I’m allowed to be a woman who ages

Dolly Alderton A reader


I am sure you will agree

Edith Sitwell to Mrs Almer



Jordan Stephens


The answer is a resounding and permanent NO

Whitey to TV production company


Do they not understand?

Mr Drayton to The Journal



Emma Corrin


Like a tree in full bearing

Charlotte Bronte to W.S. Williams



Taron Egerton


I have had my eye on you

Simon Fallowfield to Mary Foster


Be proud

Elton John to himself



Rob Rinder


We all make mistakes

Sherrif Anwar to Julie and Brian


Dolly Alderton to a Reader, ‘I’m allowed to be a woman who ages’. © Dolly Alderton; Sheriff Anwar to Julie & Brian, ‘We all make mistakes’, March 2017. Contains information licensed under the Open Justice – Licence v1.0; K.A. Applegate to their readers, ‘Life isn’t a World Wrestling Federation Smackdown’, 2001. © K.A. Applegate, used with permission by Pippin Properties, Inc. (‘K.A. Applegate’ was a pseudonym used by husband-and-wife team, Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate); Mrs J. Blackford to Viz, ‘Alphabetti Spaghetti’, 1995. © Metropolis Publishing/Fulchester Industries; Mr Drayton to The Journal, ‘Do They not understand?’, 2012. © Mr Drayton, by permission of Mirrorpix.; Humphry House to Madeline Church, ‘Short gap for love-making’, 19th December 1933. From: Julia Parry, ‘The Shadowy Third: Love, Letters, and Elizabeth Bowen’. Duckworth (2021) © The Estate of Humphry House; Elton John to his younger self, ‘Be proud’, March 8th, 2009. © WAB Global Limited; Joe Lycett to Mark Carne, ‘I am left in quite the quandary!’, November 2014. © Joe Lycett; Toni Morrison to Black Women, ‘Dear Us’, 1985. Copyright ©Toni Morrison, 1985. Reprinted by permission of Toni Morrison and CAA; George Bernard Shaw to various. By permission of The Society of Authors, on behalf of the Bernard Shaw Estate. © The Estate of George Bernard Shaw; Edith Sitwell to Mrs. Almer, ‘I am sure you will agree’, 1930s. © The estate of Edith Sitwell; Peter Thompson to Clare Venables, ‘Nothing else matters’, 2003. © Peter Thompson; Whitey to TV production company, ‘The answer is a resounding No’, 2013. © Whitey; Virginia Woolf to her sister, Vanessa, ‘We hear that you have found a new Red Ape ‘, 6th February 1907. by permission of the Society of Authors for the estate of Virginia Woolf;
Sunday 6th August 2023
Jordan Stephens


Vegetable people

E. Mullion to Viz


The rooms about us will grow cold and drab

Dirk Bogarde to Kathleen Tynan



Benedict Cumberbatch


How can you live like this?

Oliver Beale to Richard Branson



Claire Foy


Enough is Enough

Marguerite Louise D’Orleans to Cosimo III De Medici



Emma Corrin


I love you—the way you always are

Zelda Fitzgerald to  F. Scott Fitzgerald


We are in a climate emergency

Anne Taylor Guardian



John Lloyd (Voice of God)


I will end with a cordial invitation

Auberon Waugh to Lionel Grigson



Louise Brealey


I want nobody but you for my lover

Katherine Mansfield to John Murry



Jason Isaacs


I’m getting too old for illness

Bruce Robinson to Richard E. Grant


It will be sunny one day

Stephen Fry to Crystal



Claire Foy + Louise Brealey


The Stones are dirty and sloppy and they repugnate me

Kathy and Pam



Noma Dumezweni


You write the worst letters

Anais Nin to Henry Miller



Ferdinand Kingsley


Yours in science

Harvey Rowe to Scott Williams


My thoughts are with two remarkable women

Philip Woolcock to Telegraph



Sinead Cusack


Shine, constantly and steadily

Caitlin Moran to Lizzie Moran


My pink cactus is probably going to flower

Adèle Eugénie Sidonie to Colette’s Husband



Taron Egerton


I’m going to mope about you in the bath

Dylan Thomas to Caitlin Macnamara



Claire Foy + Noma Dumezweni + Louise Brealey + Emma Corrin


Batman is still and will continue to be a perfect physical specimen

Various to Batman


Oliver Beal to Richard Branson, ‘How can you live like this?’, December 2008. © Olly Beale; Dirk Bogarde to Kathleen Tynan, ‘The rooms about us will grow cold and drab’, January 1995. © The Estate of Dirk Bogarde; Pamela Des Barres and Kathy & Stevie, ‘The Stones are dirty and sloppy and they repugnate me’, May 1965. © Pamela Des Barres; Stephen Fry to Crystal, ‘It will be sunny one day’, 2006. © Stephen Fry; Caitlin Moran to her daughter, ‘Shine, constantly and steadily’, July 2013. © Caitlin Moran; E. Mullion to Viz, ‘Vegetable people’, 2016. © Metropolis Publishing/Fulchester Industries; Anais Nin to Henry Miller, ‘You write the worst letters’, 15th June 1941. © The Anais Nin Trust; Bruce Robinson to Richard E. Grant, ‘I’m getting too old for illness’, 1987. © Bruce Robinson; Harvey Rowe to Scott Williams, ‘Smithsonian Barbie’, 1994. © Harvey Rowe; Anne Taylor to the Guardian, ‘We are in a climate emergency’, July 2023 © Anne Taylor; Dylan Thomas to Caitlin Macnamara, ‘I’m going to mope about you in the bath’, 17th July 1936. © The Dylan Thomas Trust; Various to Batman, ‘Batman is still and will continue to be a perfect physical specimen’, 1960s. © Bill Adler, from ‘Fan Mail 66’; Auberon Waugh to Lionel Grigson, ‘I will end with a cordial invitation’, October 1977. © The Estate of Auberon Waugh, by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop; Philip Woolcock to The Telegraph, ‘My thoughts are with two remarkable women’, July 2023. © Philip Woolcock;