Festival attracts top names

Poet Pam Ayres.
Poet Pam Ayres.

Best-selling international authors will be beating a pathway to Sheffield in October for this year’s Off the Shelf Festival.

The annual celebration of the written word has its usual array of TV personalities such as chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, historian Lucy Worsley, sports presenter Ned Boulting, war reporter Kate Adie, adventurer Dan Snow and popular poet Pam Ayres making her first appearance in Sheffield in a decade.

From the US, Chuck Palahnuik, author of The Fight Club, introduces Doomed, a sequel to one of his other best-sellers, Damned. Veteran crime writer Walter Mosley of The Devil in a Blue Dress fame, is presenting a new novel featuring LA private eye Easy Rawlins.

Jung Chang, whose novel Wild Swan has sold 10 million copies worldwide, will be here to talk about her biography of Empress Dowager Cixi, one of the most important people in Chinese history

From Ireland, there is Booker Prize-winner Roddy Doyle with a new novel, The Guts, featuring Jimmy Rabbitte from his best-seller The Commitments.

Another award-winner, Sally Gardner, who recently received the Carnegie Medal, will talk about Maggot Moon which won the Costa children’s award.

At an event at High Storrs School novelist and columnist Kate Figes will discuss with a panel of students communication issues between teenagers and their parents.

In a curtain-raiser to the festival Prime Suspect creator Lynda La Plante will present her latest crime novel, Wrongful Death, on September 9.

In the area of popular culture Paul Morley brings north his book about The North, Richard Weight tells the story of The Mods, while St Etienne’s Bob Stanley is touring with his written word offering , Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop.

Maverick broadcaster and traveller Andy Kershaw has written a biography charting his turbulent life.

Katie Adie’s book, Fighting on the Home Front, looks at the First World War through the eyes of women, and Dan Snow will discuss Battle Castles - 500 Years of Knights and Siege Warfare, the book of his TV series.

Food lovers are well catered for with as demonstration by The Great British Bake-off’s James Morton, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall extolling the virtues of fruit in the latest of his River Cottage series and a Vietnamese themed dinner and food demo with streetfood sensations Van Ttan and Anh Vu.

With well over a hundred readings, talks, workshops and children’s events there is an impressive range of subjects covered apart from poetry and literature ranging from sports science to visual arts to climbing Everest, politics and popular ornithology.

The full programme will appear in the brochure out soon and tickets go on sale on August 31.