Book festival making new friends in Sheffield

Off The Shelf: Guest speaker Richard Wilson.
Off The Shelf: Guest speaker Richard Wilson.
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I DON’T believe it!

One Foot in The Grave star Richard Wilson will be discussing his life as an actor, director, broadcaster and author at this year’s Star-backed Off The Shelf Festival of Words.

Other big names celebrating the book festival’s 21st anniversary - from October 13 to November 3 - include witty comedian Sandi Toksvig, performance poet Benjamin Zephaniah and TV historian Dan Snow.

Today festival bosses revealed highlights as they encouraged regular and new visitors to join their Friends Scheme before August 24 - to benefit from privileges, for just £20 a year.

Members get an advance copy of the Off the Shelf brochure and priority booking for the festival, on general sale from September 1, and special events throughout the year.

They are entered into a yearly draw to win a selection of signed books and get a twice-yearly newsletter.

Sheffield Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “The Off the Shelf Friends Scheme is an ideal way for supporters to contribute to the growth and success of the festival. 

“It’s one of the highlights of Sheffield’s event calendar and is making an impact nationwide.”

Off the Shelf, with platinum sponsor Civica, will boast events in 82 venues, walks, talks, workshops and performances. It attracted 24,000 people last year.

Other guests include illustrator Posy Simmonds, Black Diamonds writer Catherine Bailey, local historian Mike Spick, historian, poet Sharon Olds, poet and author Simon Armitage, historian John Julius Norwich and musician Peter Hook.

Benjamin Zephaniah, one of the UK’s best loved performance poets who is strongly influenced by Jamaican culture, will give a rare talk.

Civica, is supporting schools events.

The Star, a gold sponsor, will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Retro editor Nancy Fielder will discuss the paper’s history and invite reasders to bring old photos and other memorabilia that may be published.

Readers will also be given the chance to get a free copy of crime thriller, Deity, to discuss it with author Steven Dunne. See The Star on Wednesday, September 5.

n To join the Friends Scheme e-mail; call 0114 273 4400. More at