Letters Live

Letters Live is a series of live performance events

that celebrate the enduring power of

literary correspondence.


From Virginia Woolf's heart-breaking suicide letter to the recipe for drop scones sent by Queen Elizabeth II to President Eisenhower; from Elvis Presley’s somewhat crazed letter to President Nixon to Gandhi’s appeal to Hitler for calm on the eve of World War II; and from Iggy Pop's beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan to a remarkable job application from Leonardo da Vinci.

As well as celebrating the pain, joy, wisdom and humour expressed in letters, Letters Live has from the outset been committed to promoting literacy and to fund-raising for literacy charities. This remains an important part of its activities both in the UK and abroad.

At the end of 2020, Letters Live produced a special archive film of some of their favourite ever performances of incredible letters, taken from Union Chapel.

In 2014, a series of letters were sent to, and reprinted in, the Guardian newspaper in response to one of the more pressing geopolitical issues of the day. Benedict Cumberbatch, Jarvis Cocker, Olivia Colman, Sharon Horgan, Jeremy Corbyn and more read these letters at our event at the Union Chapel, London in March 2019.

On the morning of November 29th, 1866, in the Yorkshire village of Middlesmoor, the following letter found its way to the home of one Mary Foster, sent by a local farmer named Simon Fallowfield. Mary declined his offer. Read by Taron Egerton on Friday 14th July 2017 at Union Chapel, London.

In November 2015, French journalist Antoine Leiris lost his wife, Helene Muyal, when gunmen opened fire at the Bataclan theatre in Paris, killing her and 86 other people. Days later, Antoine wrote an open letter to his wife’s killers.