Editor Caroline Atkins and a cast of live actors read from letters never sent by their famous authors – from delicious tirades written under a red mist to tender words of unspoken love.
In our age of instant messaging and email, correspondence is mostly short, disposable and shallow, revealing little of the emotional drama of our lives.
But a letter – the real kind, with stamps and envelopes — is another matter entirely. A letter is a dangerous thing: a window into the author’s soul, endowed with meaning and significance by the time and effort it requires. A letter might begin a love affair or alter the course of history, make a reputation or wreck it, avert a war or start one. A letter is not sent lightly.
That’s why writer and editor Caroline Atkins has uncovered the most fascinating letters never sent. When we decide not to post a letter – whether through cowardice or caution, or because we’re far-sighted enough to realise the consequences – we learn something about who we really are.
In this mesmerising evening, special guest actors will join Caroline to read history’s most revealing, powerful and thought-provoking letters left unsent — from Beethoven to Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf to Iris Murdoch, George III to JFK. Some were written out of an alcoholic haze, others bashed out by writers too hot-tempered to check either the sense or the spelling. Many provoked trouble or revealed too much. One may have started a nuclear war.
Fans of Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note or Simon Sebag Montifiore’s Written in History should not miss this utterly unique and illuminating occasion as we bring history – and the history that was – to life.