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Off the Shelf Festival of Words 2020

Off the Shelf Festival of Words 2020, 9 - 31 October

Off the Shelf is one of the largest literary festivals in the UK, and despite the global pandemic nothing is going to stop the team from presenting the best of literary talent in 2020 - the festival’s 29th year. Books and reading have been even more essential during these challenging times. The full programme is online with live and pre recorded conversations with writers but Off the Shelf is excited to announce that it will be one of the first literary festivals this year to include some live events with an audience. Held in two well known Sheffield city venues; The Octagon and The Crucible at Sheffield Theatres, limited audiences will be able to safely hear some wonderful speakers in person.

The festival is brought to you by the University of Sheffield and supported by Arts Council England and Sheffield Hallam University.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Culture at the University of Sheffield, said: “Great talent needs supporting both financially and creatively – the University is committed to ensuring the vibrancy and creative talent of our city is both a showcase for developing and emerging writers and showcasing the very best of national and international literary talent. We are indebted to our sponsors, supporters, the Arts Council and the City for ensuring that we still have a platform for what is one of the longest established literature Festivals in the UK. It will be different but still innovative, creative and speaks for and represents the City that we are part of. Please support us and all our artists in these challenging times.”

Ashley Barnes Deputy Head of Humanities at Sheffield Hallam University: “As we try and express our thoughts and feelings about the post-Covid world, words are more important than ever. Our programme encourages you to find the genre that suits your desire for expression, by getting amazing authors (from fiction to scripts) to discuss how and why they write.”

The team have worked hard throughout lockdown to produce an uplifting and thought-provoking programme that reflects the world around us. The cream of literary world Some of the best known names in literature are appearing in the 2020 festival including: Simon Armitage, Lemn Sissay, Helen Mort, David Olusoga, Lee Child, Kit de Waal, Luke Jennings, Stuart Maconie, Susie Dent, Jonathan Porritt, Nazir Afzal, Dan Walker, Heather Morris, Roger Robinson, Luke Harding, Candice Brathwaite and Michelle Rawlins with Women of Steel.

Sheffield Hallam University has created a series of materclasses and workshops for the programme and secured Laura Wade for How to Write Plays, Samuel West for How to Read out Loud and Nikesh Shukla for How to Write True Fiction.

A previous popular visitor Lee Child, author of the international bestselling Jack Reacher books will open the festival and will be interrogated about his fascinating life and work by his biographer Dr Heather Martin in a live on line event on Friday 9 October. Both are delighted to be part of Off the Shelf. Lee Child says: "Sheffield is always in my heart, and I was delighted to be invited to open the festival - it's always great to be back." And Heather Martin comments: "The last time Lee Child appeared at Off the Shelf I was in the audience taking notes. It's a thrill to return three years later as his biographer."

Sheffield breeds amazing literary talent and locally based writer Helen Mort will be present at one of the live on stage events talking about her new book on Monday 19 October. She says: “Off The Shelf is always a highlight in the literary calendar and I love the way it puts Sheffield on the map. This year I am looking forward to participating more than ever - it will be a delight to take part in a pioneering live event after months in the house! My new book Never Leave The Dog Behind will be hot off the press so I’m excited to share it with a new audience.”

Simon Armitage has been a guest curator for Off the Shelf previously. Now he is the British Poet Laureate and returns for a very special and unique drive in live event on Sunday 11 October held at the Mercure Sheffield Kenwood Hall Hotel. He says: “Delighted to be ‘back on the road’ again with this drive-in poetry reading, Off The Shelf thinking out of the box - almost literally - to make this event happen. Pomp your horn if you agree.”

Off the Shelf will have a mix of free online events – 80% of the festival programme - and ticketed live on stage/live streamed events. Please reference the Off the Shelf website for up to date information: www.offtheshelf.org.uk/ from 14 September

Tickets for live on stage/live streamed/Poetry Drive In events go on sale on 14 September at 10am from www.offtheshelf.org.uk

Off the Shelf has set up a Just Giving page and hopes that people will donate and help the festival to remain sustainable and accessible for audiences, authors and performers, readers and writers. The money raised will go back into the festival to help it continue its work. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/offtheshelf
Off the Shelf is also very grateful to Associate Partners this year; S-PA (Sheffield Property Association), and SIPS (Sheffield Institute for Policy Studies/Sheffield Hallam University)

For further information, please contact:
Surriya Falconer
Falconer Associates
E: surriya@falconerassociates.com T: 0114 236 2494 M: 07770 415262

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