'Dear Bessie. Today, after what has seemed a long, long time, I have received two letters from you, thus terminating any doubts that I had that you had been bombed, or run off with an American...'
In the midst of World War Two, former postal clerk Chris Barker found himself stationed in North Africa as part of the Royal Corps of Signals. Passing the time by firing off correspondence to a couple of old friends, Barker received a response from former colleague Bessie Moore that would change both their lives forever.
For the next three years, meeting only twice in that time, Chris and Bessie engaged in a passionate long-distance love affair through letters. From their initial, tentative courting, through tell-all intimacy and their eventual reunion, this is a story told through beautiful language, devilish wit and a tangible sense of longing.
Their correspondence was first made popular following its inclusion in Simon Garfield's To the Letter, before being brought to life on stage in Canongate's 'Letters Live' series by names as varied as Benedict Cumberbatch, David Nicholls, Lisa Dwan, Patrick Kennedy and Kerry Fox. Now, edited into one volume, My Dear Bessie offers readers the whole story in one book.
We welcome Simon Garfield, non-fiction chronicler par excellence and editor of this volume, as he discusses love and life with Chris and Bessie's son Bernard Barker. With readings of the letters by surprise star guests, including actress, journalist and writer Louise Brealey (Sherlock, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) this is an evening to do justice to a love affair that lasted over sixty years.
'One day I shall actually see you. One day we shall really be together. Then we shall really begin to live, and our education will have begun.'
Venue: The Auditorium at Foyles, Level 6, 107 Charing Cross Road
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