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Welcome to Off the Shelf festival of words
15-31 October 2021
Brought to you by the University of Sheffield

Celebrating books, words, ideas and our 30th Edition!
Welcome to the festival programme that comes with a heartfelt thanks to all of our partners and friends who have supported us over the past year. It has been a difficult time, but books, reading, ideas and conversations are at the core of what we do and our 30th edition is a time for us to celebrate our past, present and future with uplifting and thought-provoking events.
Some of the festival activity will be online and we are delighted to bring you live events in real venues with the chance to hear some wonderful speakers in person.
Our 30th edition features a brilliant, varied mix of events with everything from prizewinning fiction to pertinent politics, Queer culture and iconic 80s music, comedy, history and magnificent memoirs.
We celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Peak District with a new commission by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and look from the Peak to South Yorkshire with events in Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley working with our partners in the region. Sheffield writer Désirée Reynolds curates the second year of Black Women Write Now, a strand celebrating black women’s voices, this time applauding pioneering women writers. Look out for the buzzz of Biography of a Fly written by Dutch writer Jaap Robben – a quirky tale of a fly split over 30 poster sites in the city centre, that’s been created working in collaboration with the Dutch Literature Foundation. Finally, we offer family friendly fun events during October half-term!

We look forward to seeing you!
Off the Shelf team

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders, supporters and partners who are helping us to deliver a diverse programme for audiences across the region.

Delivered by: University of Sheffield
Supported by: Arts Council England. Sheffield Hallam University. Sheffield City Council.
Partners: New Dutch Writing. Sheffield Theatres Trust. Cast. The Civic Barnsley. Rotherham Theatres.

Festival team
Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director
Sara Unwin, Festival Manager & Co-ordinator for University of Sheffield
Maria de Souza & Lesley Webster, Festival curators
Ashley Barnes, Festival Co-ordinator for Sheffield Hallam University

Thanks also to:
Blackwell’s, Festival book sales
Modern Culture
Kitty Turner, K Turner Sounds
Vivid Creative

Please donate if you can
You will see Please Donate Here buttons alongside online events and on the home pages.
The past year has been a difficult one and impacted on our box office revenue. If you can, please donate and help us to keep Off the Shelf sustainable and accessible for the people of South Yorkshire, for our staff and students, for children, for communities, for the authors we support, for readers and writers, for everyone who loves literature. The money we raise will go back to the Festival, to pay for the authors, the venues, the podcasts and digital events we have produced and the diverse content we are delivering. In supporting Off the Shelf, your donation will contribute to the cultural life of our beloved city and enable us to continue our work.

COVID-19 Information
At the time of writing we are anticipating that venues will remain open and live events will be operating much as they did before the pandemic. We will be selling venue tickets at full capacity. We will follow Government guidance as it is announced and share any information that changes e.g. about social distancing and mask wearing.

Please note that for all events at Millennium Gallery access is via the front doors on Arundel Gate.

Tell us what you think

Event feedback form