Citybooks Sheffield

Five authors, a photographer, a video artist and students of Dutch in Germanic Studies created a unique online portrait of the City of Sheffield: citybook Sheffield. The result is an alternative travel guide, an artistic impression of the city, a combination of fact, image and the imaginary.

The EU-funded project is an ever-expanding collection of visual and literary tributes to interesting but not necessarily well-known cities. Sheffield is the only UK representative in this EU-funded project and the Centre of Dutch and Flemish Studies is proud of its ongoing collaboration and contribution to The citybook project leader for Sheffield is Henriette Louwerse.


As part of Sheffield's ongoing involvement with, our Fourth Year students of Dutch are enlisted as translators on the citybook project. Together with the author and a professional translator, they translate a brand new citybook from Dutch into English. This is often a first encounter with literary translation for our students and a real eye-opener. Now established literary translators such as Jenny Watson, Tom Warne and Alice Tetley-Paul started on the Translation Project.

The 2018 translation is 'DOLOR: Official punk in Karlsruhe' by Dutch author and poet Maarten van der Graaff. 

More about Translation Project 2018

Dutch author and performer Rebekka de Wit wrote her citybook Antwerp in January 2016 and less than a month later, our students are applying their language and translation skills to prepare the English version for publication on the web site. In April 2017, students tackled the citybook 'Not long now' by Flemish author and European Champion Slam Poetry Carmien Michels.

2017: Carmien Michels

2016: Rebekka de Wit 

citybook Sheffield: The Artists

Abdelkader Benali

Abdelkader Benali moved from Morocco to the Netherlands at the age of four. In 1996 he published his first novel, Bruiloft aan zee (Wedding by the Sea) (1996), which established his reputation as an ambitious new voice in Dutch literature. In the following years Benali continued to make an impact as a literary critic, novelist, short story writer, playwright and poet. He also has his own literary program on Dutch television. Abdelkader Benali visited Sheffield in November 2011. 

Abdelkader Benali was a central figure in the Virtual Dutch Translation Project, a yearly collaborative project involving students from Sheffield, Cambridge, Nottingham and University College London. With the support of literary translator Jonathan Reeder the students translated Benali's Skopje citybook from Dutch into English. 

For his Sheffield citybook Benali focused on a night out in Sheffield's West Street. The audiobook is currently available in Dutch, English and French.

David Bocking

A Sheffielder born and bred, many of David Bocking's relatives in the past worked in the city's steel industry. Over recent years, his photographs and articles have shown a changing city coming to terms with the loss of steel and coal as major employers, and a growth in service and retail trades.

For citybooks, David Bocking focused on his particular interest in the Sheffield´s growing awareness of environmental issues and its stake in the new `green´ economy. His images aim to show aspects of Sheffield that are sometimes unappreciated by outsiders, including the city´s remarkable landscape, and the humour and resilience of Sheffield people. 

David Bocking's images of Sheffield were part of the first citybooks Group Exhibition which took place in Brussels at De Markten on 24 May 2012. Bocking's images also represent Sheffield during the citybooks exhibition in De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam in May and June 2013.

Dominic Green

Dominic Green is a film studies lecturer and independent filmmaker who lives in Sheffield. His output varies from interviews and music videos to extreme sports films.

For citybooks Sheffield Dominic Green recorded 24 one-minute films corresponding with the 24-hours in a day. He gained access to as yet unrecorded places such as the famous Henderson's relish site. All 24 short films together will show that Green combines the narrative with the impressionistic, the humorous with the informative.

Agnes Lehoczky

Agnes Lehoczky is an Hungarian-born poet and translator who lives in Sheffield. She has recently published her second collection Rememberer by Egg Box. She teaches creative writing on the Masters course at the University of Sheffield. 

Parasite of Town is a sequence of prose poems written on the city of Sheffield. The poems take a psychogeographical approach in order to explore the urban landscape written from the perspective of a wanderer, an anonymous drifter who strolls in and out of the streets of the city with an uncertain desire  to explore the visible and invisible history, the palpable and impalpable architecture, the past and present psyche of the place. Agnes Lehoczky also performed her Sheffield citybook as part of wordSurge on 29 September 2012. 

Agnes Lehoczky also worked with Sheffield students of Dutch to create a student citybook which is also published as part of the Sheffield citybook.

Rebecca Lenaerts

Rebecca Lenaerts' main artistic explorations revolve around how radio and podcasting can be sculpted into a theatrical medium and a platform for audio creations. She created audio plays live on stage in collaboration with musicians and djs. She describes her most recent project, In Arcadia, as 'an auditory passage into a different world': ten famous paintings triggered an imaginary exploration of the universe behind the well-known image. 

Cities are a recurrent source of inspiration in Lenaerts' work. In autumn 2007 Lenaerts made a series of audio stories about Brussels for podcasts and blogsites and under the name Devrouwdie (TheWomanWho) she creates her own, sometimes grotesque, city stories.

Apart from writing her Sheffield citybook, My Humble Home, Lenaerts shared her talents as a storyteller and a creative workshop organiser. In collaboration with Germanic Studies students she offered a workshop as part of the Department's outreach activities for a group of GCSE students from Havelock Academy, Grimsby.

Helen Mort

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985. She has published two pamphlets of poetry with tall-lighthouse press, the shape of every box and a pint for the ghost, a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. Five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. She has performed her work everywhere from Latitude festival to Buckingham Palace and in 2010 took her live literature show to the Edinburgh Fringe. Helen has also written drama for radio and for stage.

Mort's citybook God of the Gaps is a dream-sequence, a journey through Sheffield at night, part memory, part fantasy. It extends Mort´s interest in the supernatural and the pub as a theatre where strange things take place. The narrator navigates her way through a city where all names, signs and other markers of place have been removed, and uses writing as a kind of compass, a way of bringing familiar landmarks back again.

Joost Zwagerman

Joost Zwagerman was a prominent figure in the Dutch literary landscape and beyond. Not only was he one of the most widely read authors of his generation, he was also a prominent and acclaimed art critic, expert on pop music and a television personality. His wrote fiction, poetry, essays, columns and political pamphlets.  Joost Zwagerman contributed extensively to the Germanic Studies Dutch programme. He offered seminars on Dutch literature and contemporary society for students of Dutch at all levels. His most extensive teaching project involved the so-called Virtual Dutch Translation Project which involved students from Sheffield, Cambridge, Nottingham and University College London. Using an virtual learning environment, the students collaborated in small groups to translate the opening chapter of Zwagerman's novella Duel into English. The full text of the collaborative translation can be downloaded on the right.

Zwagerman's experiences during this translation project inspired him for his citybook Vallei Flies High, or: Satori in Sheffield.

For Zwagerman's UK residency we received financial supported from the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Sheffield Students

Students of the Department of Germanic Studies of the University of Sheffield, as part of a special university module constructed around the citybooks concept, wrote their very own citybook. A group of Second Year Students explored the impact and significance of stories and story-telling on who we are and who we would like to be. The course included a creative writing element, which was offered by one of Sheffield’s citybook authors, Agnes Lehóczky. Under her inspiring guidance the students investigated their feelings about cities in general and about the city of Sheffield in particular. The students identified ten streets, parks, buildings or forgotten corners of Sheffield. Each student captured their chosen site using their own observation, imagination, creativity and historical research. The end product is this collaborative citybook, Beyond Sheffield Train Station which can be read and listened to as an e-book and an audio book (podcast)alongside the artists' citybooks on the citybook website

Supported by...

  • deBuren
  • Education and Culture DG Culture Programme
  • Nederlands Letterenfonds Dutch Foundation for Literature