Russell Brand, Benedict Cumberbatch and Gillian Anderson return to Letters Live

Star studded lineup revealed for annual ‘celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence’

After their turns reading the words of Alan Turing, Katharine Hepburn and Che Guevara respectively, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gillian Anderson and Russell Brand are returning to perform at Letters Live in March.

Letters Live is a “celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence” started by independent publisher Canongate after the success of Shaun Usher’s bestselling book Letters of Note. After a sellout run in 2015, it has been established as annual event in which performers read letters from famous people and historical moments, with the line-up remaining secret until the event starts.

Across seven shows at the Freemasons’ Hall in London’s Covent Garden in March, Cumberbatch, Anderson and Brand will be joined by the likes of actors Sir Ian McKellen, Jude Law, Dominic West and Geoffrey Palmer; writer Caitlin Moran, author Hanif Kureishi, former-Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, musicians Jarvis Cocker, Tom Odell and James Rhodes; and comedians Matt Berry and John Bishop.

During the 2015 run, letters from individuals including David Bowie, Marge Simpson, Gandhi, Elvis Presley, Richard Burton and Che Guevara were featured. Cumberbatch read a letter from the mathematician Alan Turing, whom he played in the film The Imitation Game, while Brand read a letter from Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, addressed to his children.

Gillian Anderson said she was “delighted to return to the Letters Live stage”, while Cumberbatch said, “It’s a privilege to read this most ancient of communications live to an audience and it’s a truly inspiring event to be a part of.”

The first six Letters Live shows of 2016 will take place from 10 to 15 March, with a family special matinee on 12 March. An additional 20 to 25 dates across 2016 and 2017 have yet to be announced.

Letters Live has a history of supporting UK literacy initiatives, including author Nick Hornby’s Ministry of Stories, a creative writing centre in east London for young people aged 8-18; and First Story, an outreach literacy project founded by writer William Fiennes and the Reading Agency. Earlier this year, Letters Live raised more than $350,000 (£240,000) for author Dave Eggers’ literacy charity 826LA.