Time to get excited as Off the Shelf festival returns to Sheffield

Off the Shelf organising committee l to r:- Su Walker, Maria De Souza, Vanessa Toulmin, Terri Wilson and Lesley Webster.
Off the Shelf organising committee l to r:- Su Walker, Maria De Souza, Vanessa Toulmin, Terri Wilson and Lesley Webster.

Get ready to experience a month of creativity, intriguing talks and vibrant debate from some of the world's top writers as the hugely popular Off the Shelf literary festival returns to Sheffield.

Now in its 26th year, the roll call of guests throughout October includes celebrated authors including Lee Child, Robert McCrum and Michael Rosen, plus appearances from actors Robert Webb and Brian Blessed.

Author Lee Child.

Author Lee Child.

This year's showcase is focused into three main themes of radicalism, India and crime – and event organisers based at Sheffield's two universities are promising 2017 will be the biggest and best yet.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, of the University of Sheffield, said: “Off the Shelf is the jewel in the crown of Sheffield.

“We are a city of artists, athletes, poets and activists who welcome and embrace international thoughts and influences and make them truly our own.

“This year's programme reflects our past, our current artistic offer and provides platforms for future writers - embrace it, celebrate it and join us.”

Brian Blessed.

Brian Blessed.

Internationally acclaimed crime writer and University of Sheffield Alumuni Lee Child will talk about the creative process at Sheffield City Hall on Friday, October 13, from 7.30pm.

This will form part of the crime weekend, which also includes a crime afternoon on the Sunday with Kate Summerscale, the multi award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.

Sunjeev Sahota, a previous Off the Shelf visiting author with his Man Booker Prize novel The Year of the Runaways, returns as an interviewer for the in conversation event with award-winning director Billy Dosanjh at the Showroom Cinema on Monday, October 9, at 7pm.

The events forms part of the India strand that features film, food, history and literature. This is part of the wider Year of India celebrations nationally, recognising the 70th anniversary of partition.

The radicalism element to the festival will include thought-provoking talks on everything from the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 right up to the Russian Revolution.

Professor and curator Mike Braddick will give a talk at the Millenium Gallery on Thursday, October 19, at 7pm, which explores what it was like to live through the English Civil War.

Other events not to be missed include Magical Books on The Moor with an afternoon of activities and storytelling celebrating fiction including Harry Potter on Saturday, October 7, from 1pm to 4pm.

Meanwhile, the Sheffield Star will be running a series of seminars looking at the publication's 130-year history.

The Festival Fringe also presents a series of diverse and vibrant events.

Celebrated actor Brian Blessed will take to the stage at the Crucible Theatre on November 3 to talk about his new book 'The Panther in My Kitchen' with stories of rescue dogs, Kali the black panther and boa constrictors.

*Visit www.offtheshelf.org.uk