Mark Watson, John Pilger and Sir Tony Robinson at Off the Shelf festival

John Pilger
John Pilger

This is a great year for literature lovers with milestones including the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth and 200 years since Charlotte Bronte was born.

Off the Shelf, one of the biggest festivals of words in Britain, is marking its 25th year with talks by leading authors and public figures.

The celebration of all things literary is running at 17 venues across Sheffield until October 29.

Key speakers include stand-up comedian Mark Watson who will be talking about his latest book, The Place That Didn’t Exist, at the University of Sheffield Students Union on October 16.

Nicholas Crane, co-presenter of BBC series Coast, will talk about his book The Making of the British Landscape at Hallam University on October 20.

Patti Boulaye is among those contributing to a music weekend at the university’s students union on October 22 and 23. Michael Bradley of The Undertones and Lesley-Ann Jones, who was a friend of David Bowie, will talk about the books which they have written.

Investigative journalist and documentary film-maker John Pilger will talk about his creation The New Rulers of the World at the Crucible Theatre on October 27.

Politician Alan Johnson has published the third volume of his award-winning memoirs, entitled The Long and Winding Road. which he will talk about on October 28 at Sheffield Hallam University.

Much-loved actor Sir Tony Robinson will be sharing tales from his memoir which describes how he went from child stardom in the first stage production of Oliver! to comedy icon Baldrick in Blackadder. Tony’s talk on October 29 at the Crucible Theatre will also include anecdotes about presenting TV’s Time Team.

For children, there will be a celebration of Roald Dahl on Sunday, October 15, from 1pm to 4pm. The Moor will be alive with characters such as Willy Wonka and Fantastic Mr Fox. Make a dirty beast mask or BFG ears or try to win a prize in a golden ticket competition.

For more details on the festival, visit www.offtheshelf.org.uk