Stars including Benedict Cumberbatch, Gillian Anderson, Nick Cave and Neil Gaiman turned out to perform at charity event Letters Live on Tuesday night. Reading extracts from Simon Garfield's To the Letter and Shaun Usher's Letters of Note books, the actors, writers and musicians brought to life the power of letters. The many highlights included Anderson's moving reading of a letter from Katharine Hepburn to Spencer Tracy; Cumberbatch and Kerry Fox reading a couple's wartime correspondence; Peter Serafinowicz doing a David Bowie impression; and Cave reading his infamous message rejecting an MTV Music Awards nomination. At the end of the evening, Anderson chaired an auction of books, with Cumberbatch gamely holding up a signed volume. Gaiman joked that the book's value would be increased by it containing DNA from Cumberbatch's sweaty hands; Anderson then licked it in an attempt to boost the bids even further. "Imagine the cloning possibilities!" said Gaiman. Bidding proceeded at a spritely pace, with a cartel formed by Times columnist Caitlin Moran, writer John Niven and musician/BBC 6 Music presenter Guy Garvey taking a prominent part. In the end, the auction raised more than £10,000 for literary charity the Reading Agency – surely something worth writing about.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Gillian Anderson do it by the book | Media Monkey
BBC Sherlock star, X Files actor and a host of other celebrities perform at charity event for the Reading Agency