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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Off the Shelf picks

Autumn in Sheffield is pretty much synonymous with literary delights, as Off the Shelf hosts three weeks packed with talks and readings from world renowned authors and poets, famous folk off the telly, and a few knowledgable locals.

Each year, the Festival of Words absorbs audiences in topics ranging from pop music to politics, fine art to feminism. This year's programme features maths teacher turned stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan, Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, designer Orla Kiely, queen of crime Val McDermid, The Slits' guitarist Viv Albertine, Great British Bake Off finalist Ruby Tandoh, journalist Robert Peston, comedian Susan Calman, Unexplained podcast host Richard MacLean Smith, and tons more.

Read on for what's still to come from our Hannah's top 10 picks of this year's programme – and see the rest on the Off the Shelf website.

My Letter to the World

Sat. 6 October 2018

The Light Cinema, The Moor, S1 4PF

A documentary about Emily Dickinson, delving deep into her poetry and her hometown of Amherst, MA. Followed by Q&A.

Yorkshire: A Lyrical History of England’s Greatest County

Mon. 8 October 2018

Millennium Gallery

Richard Morris digs into history to examine how England’s largest county took shape both geographically and sociologically, and the inspiration it's had on artists and writers.


Tue. 9 October 2018

Pennine Theatre, Owen Building, Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, S1 1WB

In 2016 Gina Miller successfully challenged the government’s right to implement Brexit without approval from parliament. Here she discusses fighting injustice and speaking out for what you believe in.

Frankenstein: The First 200 Years

Wed. 10 October 2018

Pennine Theatre, Owen Building, Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, S1 1WB

Christopher Frayling explores the enduring appeal of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its ability to remain a cultural touchstone over its two centuries.


Thu. 11 October 2018

The Octagon Centre, Clarkson Street, S10 2TQ

TV presenter Evan Davis charts a route through the mass of information we are bombarded with daily, to try and work out why the manipulation of facts is so rife.

Death in Ten Minutes – Kitty Marion: Activist, Arsonist, Suffragette

Fri. 12 October 2018

Theatre Deli

Historian Fern Riddell delves into the diaries of actress and suffragette bomber Kitty Marion, to tell a story that isn't often included in the relatively sanitised history of the movement.

Strong Language

Fri. 12 October 2018 — Sun. 14 October 2018

Site Gallery

Three days of readings, performances, projections, installations and discussions surrounding radical print.

Audacious Mr Astley

Wed. 17 October 2018

Drama Studio, Shearwood Road, S10 2TD

Chris Barltrop presents a one-man play based on the life of Philip Astley, the father of modern circus.

Corbyn: The Resurrection

Sat. 20 October 2018

Pennine Theatre, Owen Building, Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, S1 1WB

Political cartoonist Steve Bell reflects on the rapid rise of the Labour leader and the political upheaval that followed his election.

The Life and Times of a Very British Man

Sun. 21 October 2018

Firth Hall, Firth Court, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, S10 2TN

A funny and profound exploration of British diversity as the very foundation of the nation as we know it.