Skip to main content
A Magazine for

Off The Shelf Festival of Words announces online and in-person 2020 events

‘Highlight in the literary calendar’ features events with David Olusoga, Lemn Sissay, Helen Mort, Simon Armitage, Kit de Waal and Lee Child.

David Olusoga closer

Historian, writer and presenter David Olusoga.

Off The Shelf Festival of Words has released its programme for 2020, with events taking place online and at two well-loved Sheffield venues this October.

This year’s schedule includes big names in literature and journalism, including historian and BAFTA-winning TV presenter David Olusoga, writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, local writer Helen Mort, and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Online events will involve a mixture of live and pre-recorded streams, while in-person events with audiences will take place at The Octagon and The Crucible with social distancing measures in place.

Around 80% of online events will be free to attend, with the festival encouraging donations via its JustGiving page from those who can afford it. Off The Shelf is delivered by the University of Sheffield with support from Sheffield Hallam University.

Helen Mort credit Emma Ledwith

Poet and author Helen Mort.

Emma Ledwith.

“Off The Shelf is always a highlight in the literary calendar and I love the way it puts Sheffield on the map,” said acclaimed local poet Helen Mort said.

“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!”

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Culture at the University of Sheffield, added: “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.”

Now entering its 29th year, Off The Shelf has previously featured talks from literary heavyweights like George Monbiot, Hilary Mantel, Benjamin Zephaniah, Owen Jones, Sandi Toksvig and John Pilger.

Learn more

Tickets for all Off The Shelf 2020 events go on sale at 10am on Monday 14 September.

Related articles