The first Off the Shelf under the new partnership with the city’s two universities may have streamlined the festival to three weeks but there as many – if not more – big names participating.
Those beating a path to Sheffield in October range from best-selling thriller writers Lee Child and Philip Kerr to cultural heavyweights Melvyn Bragg and Prof AC Grayling, revered novelists Mark Haddon and Salley Vickers to TV personalities Robert Webb and Richard Osmond
There is a musical luminary in the great Peggy Seeger, while from the world of politics come Harriet Harman and Tariq Ali, journalism is represented by Simon Jenkins and Tim Dowling and then there is space for a couple of outsize personalities in Henry Blofeld and Brian Blessed.
The 26th Off the Shelf will highlight three themes – India, Crime and Radicalism.
Among events marking the 70th year of independence on the Indian Sub-Continent is the screening of a documentary, Year Zero: Black Country, whose director Billy Dosanjh will be in conversation with Sheffield award-winning novelist Sunjeev Sahota.
Two strands in one are captured by Abir Mukherjee and Vaseem Khan, writers of Indian-set crime series.
But it is University of Sheffield graduate Lee Child, creator of Jack Reacher, who heads the crime contingent along with Bernie Gunther creator Philip Kerr, Sheffield’s Simon Beckett and fellow forensics detective writer Elly Griffiths, and popular historical crime fiction purveyors, SD Sykes and DM Mark while Kate Summerscale, author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, discusses her latest true crime book..
The Peep Show’s Robert Webb has a book called How Not to Be a Boy and Pointless guru Richard Osmond offers The World Cup of Everything. Brian Blessed has brought out a memoir, Absolute Pandemonium, while another actor, Stephen McGann, tells the story of his family over 150 years.
History is a always a big draw. Alison Weir continues her series on six Tudor queens with a Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, Dr Miranda Kaufman talks about Black Tudors, and Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray has compiled a History of Britain in 21 Women
Historical fiction is represented by Melvyn Bragg and Now is the Time set during the Peasant’s Revolt, while Booker nominee Michele Roberts presents a novel of prostitution and poverty in Victorian London, The Walworth Beauty,
Guardian columnist Tim Dowling’s treatise on fatherhood is called Dad You Suck while Guardian colleague Simon Jenkins has written on Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations. Literary editor Robert McCrum contemplates Life, Death and the Endgame
Mark Haddon of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time fame introduces a newly commissioned story inspired by Virginia Woolf, while a dark tale of contemporary family life comes from Salley Vickers. Stand-up and media pundit Natalie Haynes re-imagines the Oedipus and Antigone stores in The Children of Jocasta.
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution Tariq Ali discusses TheDilemmas of Lenin. Also in the realm of politics Prof AC Grayling assesses Democracy and Its Crisis, John O’Farrell asserts Things Can Only Get Worse, and Harriet Harman recounts 30 years of championing progressive women’s politics in A Woman’s Work
Sheffield poet Helen Mort and Radio 6 presenter Stuart Maconie have compiled an anthology of pubs and poetry and other verse-smiths appearing include performance poets Hollie McNish and Matt Abbott, Tony Walsh, aka Longfellow who came to the fore after the Manchester bombing, with his collection, Sex and Love and Rock and Roll,
The veteran of the folk scene, Peggy Seeger, has published a memoir, First Time Ever, and likewise Chris Difford who will be reading from and talking about Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze, the night before the band play City Hall on October 26. .
Soon after retiring from Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld will hold court and other events include histories of Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield FC and the biography of Sheffield boxer Clinton Woods.
On the opening day, Saturday, October 7, there will be a celebration of Magical Books with a family fun day on The Moor and on the final day, October 28, there will be a reader’s afternoon, It’s All Fiction, with seven authors taking part including Lesley Glaister, formerly of this parish, with a new novel, The Squeeze.