September 14, 2021

15-31 October

Off the Shelf, one of the most well known and loved literary festivals in the UK, celebrates its 30th edition in 2021. As usual the curatorial team have managed to bring together an amazing line up of over 80 live and online events, reflecting local, regional, and international literary talent. The festival is also extending its reach with events throughout South Yorkshire. 

This year we welcome Booker prize winner Bernardine Evaristo to talk about her new book Manifesto, BAFTA winning veteran of stage and screen Miriam Margolyes with her much anticipated life story This Much is True, and national Poet Laureate Simon Armitage who will perform a newly commissioned piece celebrating 70 years of the Peak District National Park. The festival has also brought back the successful Black Women Write Now strand introduced last year and curated once again by writer and broadcaster Désirée Reynolds. Other authors include comedy legend Andy Hamilton talking about his new novel Longhand, Sheffield’s first Poet Laureate Otis Mensah takes part in Poetry Live! and former Home Secretary, Lord David Blunkett explores his fascinating archive.  And online we can look forward to actor Samuel West interviewing Hermione Lee about her biography of Tom Stoppard, a double bill of young, talented New York writers Mateo Askaripour and Jason Mott, and a podcast by award winning playwright Chris Bush. 

Off the Shelf is brought to you by the University of Sheffield as part of its pillars of support to enable cultural vibrancy for the good of the Sheffield City Region. The festival is also

supported by Arts Council England and Sheffield Hallam University, and Sheffield City Council is collaborating in some of this years’ live events in Tudor Square.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement at the University of Sheffield said: “Every year Off the Shelf compiles a programme that reflects current issues and themes, brings together an amazing array of authors for us to meet and sources and showcases writers from our region who are making their mark. The programme this year is no different – it is a glorious tribute to literature today and a fitting line up for our 30th year.” 

Ashley Barnes, Deputy Head of the Department of Humanities at Sheffield Hallam University said: “Sheffield Hallam University is proud to once again support the Off the Shelf festival and to showcase some of the work of our graduates, staff and students.”

Off the Shelf also celebrates its unique Text in the City initiative, which places poems in public places, with a series of videos and audio recordings launched via the website. A mix of well-known actors and writers and Sheffielders perform and recite nine of these poems that can be seen in the city today. Orchard Square (retail and leisure area in Sheffield city centre) is supporting the 30th anniversary by commissioning current Sheffield Poet Laureate Warda Yassin to write a new poem. The installation of the poem will be unveiled during the festival.  

The full programme can be viewed on the website from Monday 6 September and tickets can be booked on line from 12 noon.  Printed programmes will be available at venues throughout South Yorkshire.  Tickets can also be obtained in person or by telephone from Sheffield Theatres Box Office (open Mon – Sat 12- 6.00pm) on 0114 249 6000 from 6 September at 12noon.