Renowned festival of words set to reveal new insights into iconic literature and history of radicalism

  • Off the Shelf literature festival returns with some of the best-known names in literature and media
  • University of Sheffield researchers to share pioneering research into iconic and celebrated writers, such as Charlotte Brontë
  • Festival’s programme of events explore themes of radicalism, crime and India

Some of the best-known names in literature and media are set to showcase their latest work at one of the largest literary festivals in the UK next month (7-28 October 2017).

The Off the Shelf Festival of Words, led by the University of Sheffield in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, will see an array of international, national and local talent who represent diverse, exciting and thought provoking interpretations of the written and spoken word head to Sheffield for a three week-long series of events throughout the city.

Events at the festival, which are based around the themes of radicalism, crime and India, include:

  • University of Sheffield graduate Lee Child discussing his latest Jack Reacher title
  • Other major names from the crime-writing world, such as Kate Summerscale, Elly Griffiths and Simon Beckett
  • Charlotte Brontë’s face – a talk by Dr Amber Regis from the University of Sheffield’s School of English revealing how the only professional portrait of Charlotte Brontë has been adapted across its 167-year history and explores our fascination with her life and work
  • Actor and writer Robert Webb talking about his new book, How Not to Be a Boy
  • In Person: World Poets – a film featuring poems from all over the world, from Italy to India, introduced by award-winning filmmaker Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Bloodaxe Books editor Neil Astley
  • A series of events on radicalism curated by University of Sheffield historian Professor Mike Braddick exploring the history of various radical movements from the Peasants’ Revolt to the Russian Revolution
  • A strand of events celebrating India through fiction, poetry, film and food
  • Ideas Alive – a series of talks from University of Sheffield researchers on issues including; how young children learn, the unaccountable state of surveillance, explaining the medically unexplained, and sex, intimacy and older adults
  • An event taking an in-depth look at The Nix by Nathan Hill, and American War by Omar El Akkad – contemporary fiction from two American authors exploring relationships, betrayal, politics, pop culture, devastating policies and a second American Civil War.
  • Magical Books on The Moor – an afternoon of activities and storytelling celebrating magical fiction such as Harry Potter

The front cover of Charlotte Bronte legacies and afterlives by Dr Amber RegisWriters, poets and historians from the University of Sheffield, who have produced pioneering research into some of the most iconic and celebrated names in literature and the spoken word, as well as new insights into the history of radical movements all over the world, will be showcasing their latest research at the festival.

Initially launched in 1991, the public festival has grown into one of the most renowned festivals of words in the UK. It now features over 200 events, which focus on literature and media that are often at the cutting-edge of exploring some of the world’s most pressing cultural, social and political issues.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Culture at the University of Sheffield’s Office of Regional Engagement and Partnerships, said: “Sheffield is rapidly developing a reputation for being one of the most creative and diverse cities in the UK with a wealth of talent that is at the very forefront of a range of industries. This year’s Off the Shelf programme reflects that. It celebrates our past, showcases the city’s current artistic offer and provides a platform for aspiring writers.

“The University of Sheffield is very much at the heart of Sheffield’s vibrant and creative culture. We have academics who are producing new insights into the works of literary greats such as Charlotte Brontë and Barry Hines, historians shedding new light on radicalism throughout the ages, and creative writers producing the most innovative poetry, fiction and drama. We’re delighted and proud to be working with our partners to shape, curate and showcase some of this pioneering work through the Off the Shelf Festival.”

Research from University of Sheffield academics shared at the festival will also be fed into learning and teaching activities at the University, so students at Sheffield have access to some of the latest world-leading research in English literature, language, linguistics, creative writing and history.  

For tickets and to see the festival’s full programme of events, please visit: 

Off the Shelf events

Additional information

For more information on studying English and history courses at the University of Sheffield, please visit:

School of English

Department of History

School of Languages and Cultures


The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For more information please contact: 

Sean Barton
Junior Public Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852