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Dead Poets Live: The Haunter

(This is a past event and is no longer running)

Thomas Hardy, Emma Hardy and Florence Dugdale

Featuring Toby Jones, Lesley Sharp and Rosie Sheehy

Every bereavement is a kind of ghost story. When Thomas Hardy’s wife Emma died unexpectedly in 1912, her loss unstoppered a flood of poetry in Hardy. Taken together, his poems about Emma constitute the most original, strangest and arguably the greatest series of elegies in English poetry, a complex exploration of nostalgia, regret, self-recrimination, self-mythologising, immense pain and yearning. They are the record of a haunting. Which all came as a most unpleasant irony to the second Mrs Hardy…

Working with the poet Mark Ford, whose book examining Hardy’s Emma poems, Women Much Missed, was published last year, Dead Poets Live return to The Coronet this May with a ghost story which is also a love story – a dramatization of a poet haunted into his greatest work.

Dead Poets Live have established a cult following at The Coronet Theatre for their dramatised readings of classic poetry, attracting some of Britain’s finest actors including Rory Kinnear and Tamsin Greig, Denise Gough and Tom Hiddleston. All proceeds from their evenings go to the charity Safe Passage.

Dead Poets Live is devised and supported by The TS Eliot Foundation.




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Toby Jones OBE has amassed a varied and distinguished body of work in theatre, television and film. In the theatre, he won an Olivier award for his work in The Play What I Wrote and was nominated for one for his Vanya in Uncle Vanya (2020). Among his television work, his portrayal of Alan Bates in Mr Bates vs the Post Office made brought a great injustice to national prominence. Previously his portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock in The Girl earned him Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. He was nominated for a BAFTA for his work on Marvellous, and won one for his lead role in Detectorists. He co-created and co-wrote BBC2’s Don’t Forget the Driver, in which he also starred.

On film, particularly notable work includes his Truman Capote in Infamous, for which he won the London Film Critics’ Circle Best Actor award, as he did for his lead role in Berberian Sound Studio (2012). Other notable performances include The Painted VeilFrost/NixonTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and in 2020, First Cow. Recent work includes The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Clare Foy, The WonderEmpire of Light and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.


Lesley Sharp is a British actress, who can currently be seen reprising her role as lead Detective Inspector Hannah Laing in series 2 of Channel 4 British remake of cult Swedish drama Before We Die; and on the Disney+ revival of award-winning The Full Monty, where she returns as Jean. She has just wrapped on a 6 part thriller for ITV called Red Eye, opposite Richard Armitage and Jing Lusi.  Other recent work includes Lena Dunham’s feature adaptation of Catherine Called Birdy for Amazon and Working Title, and as the title character Philoctetes in Kae Tempest’s powerful version of the Greek tragedy, Paradise, for the National Theatre.

Lesley made her film debut in Alan Clarke’s Rita, Sue and Bob Too, and shortly after starred in Clarke’s film version of Jim Cartwright’s successful stage play Road. Lesley’s other film credits also include The Full Monty, Mike Leigh’s Naked and Vera Drake, and Jimmy McGovern’s Priest.

Best known for her television work, Lesley was first seen on the small-screen as Constance Martin in ITV mini-series Dandelion Dead. Lesley then went on to have lead roles in ITV prime-time drama Bob & Rose (for which she was nominated for a BAFTA and an RTS Award), BBC One drama Clocking Off, ITV detective series Afterlife (for which she won an RTS Award), and Sally Wainright’s Scott & Bailey, opposite Suranne Jones. Lesley has also had roles in Doctor Who, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, BBC One’s BAFTA-winning Three Girls, and Netflix’s hugely successful teen drama Fate: The Winx Saga.

Lesley’s theatre credits include Pam Gems’ imagining of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, for which she was Olivier-nominated, Simon Stephen’s Harper Regan, both at the National Theatre, and Sam Shepard’s 9/11 drama The God of Hell at the Donmar Warehouse.


Rosie Sheehy’s work in theatre includes playing Young Woman in Machinal (Old Vic; Theatre Royal Bath); Julie in Romeo and Julie (The National Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well (RSC), Oleanna (Bath Theatre Royal & The Arts Theatre West End), King John** (RSC), Anna X (The Vaults), The Wolves (Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Whale (Theatre Royal Bath), Uncle Vanya* (Theatre Clwyd/Sheffield Theatres) for which she won the ‘Best Female Performance in the English Language’ award at the Wales Theatre Awards 2018, Escape the Scaffold (Theatre 503), Strife (Chichester Festival Theatre), Bird (Royal Exchange Manchester), The Hairy Ape (The Old Vic) and Chicken (Paines Plough)

Her screen credits include The Red KingA Violent Man (Ascendent Films), Steeltown Murders (BBC1), Call The Midwife (BBC1, Neal Street Productions), Wild Bill (42, Anonymous) and Chernobyl (HBO/Sky).

** Nominated for South Bank Sky Arts Breakthrough Award and The Ian Charleson Award

* Won ‘Best female performance in the English Language’ Award’, Wales Theatre Awards 2018.