Book Club: Off the Shelf

Off the Shelf, Sheffield's Festival of Words, has become an essential event for lovers ofliterature all over the country, not just in Sheffield. With plans for 2018 already well underway, we look forward to what promises to be another standout year for the festival.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 15:05 pm
Updated Monday, 21st May 2018, 15:06 pm

The programme will include events focused around three themes. These strands are the deliciously diverse Suffrage 100, Frankenstein 200 and Circus 250.

The Suffrage strand, curated by Dr Julie Gottlieb from the University of Sheffield, marks the

centenary of votes for women in Britain with a wide ranging series of events and a specially commissioned trail tracing women’s history in Sheffield.

And it is 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote her groundbreaking novel Frankenstein. This strand, not for the faint-hearted and curated by Professor Chris Wigginton from Sheffield Hallam University, features speakers and special events including a weekend of themed activity in the atmospheric Sheffield General Cemetery.

If that wasn’t already enough to have your appetite well and truly whetted, Circus 250, curated by Professor Vanessa Toulmin from the University of Sheffield, is a strand that celebrates 250 years since the birth of circus, and includes a family circus day in Weston Park in association with Circus Show of Shows at Weston Park Museum.

Altogether the festival, which which will run from 6 – 27 October, includes three weeks of

events featuring acclaimed authors, historians, artists, scientists, journalists, poets,

musicians. With a line up that covers fiction, poetry, non-fiction, family events, walks, talks, workshops and more, Off the Shelf aims to provide something for everyone. It is the only UK literary festival to be curated jointly by two universities.

Previous festivals have included appearances by Hilary Mantel, Levison Wood, Kate Adie,

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, David Mitchell, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Nick Hornby, Simon Armitage, Benjamin Zephaniah, Tony Robinson, Sandi Toksvig, John Pilger, the Hairy Bikers, Jamie Oliver, Owen Jones and Ian Rankin – to name just a few. Since 1991,

Off The Shelf has established itself as one of the highlights of the cultural calendar in Sheffield with a mission to bring literature and the arts to all parts of the community. I am already blocking out my October, ready for the cornucopia of literary events that I’ll be filling my calendar with.

I am particularly looking forward to a weekend spent in a graveyard celebrating one of my favourite gothic novels - I’d better get my nerves in training. Off The Shelf is also calling for people to get in touch and become a festival friend. If you would like to support the festival’s long term future, as well as access to priority booking, special offers and exclusive competitions, email offtheshelf@sheffield.ac.uk for more information.