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14 September 2020

Hallam aims to inspire next generation of writing talent with Off the Shelf Festival events

Sheffield Hallam is running a series of “How to…” events with multi-award-winning authors of fiction, plays and radio, to inspire the next generation of literary talent as part of the Off the Shelf Festival

Press contact: Greg Mattocks-Evans | g.mattocks-evans@shu.ac.uk

A corridor with full bookshelves on either side

The masterclasses and workshops, which will be delivered online in a series of live Zoom events and podcasts, will invite attendees to explore the written word in a variety of mediums. 

In "How to… write", we are delighted to showcase multi-award-winning playwright, Laura Wade, who will be talking about her approach to writing and visiting professor, Patrick McGuiness, on his approach to writing a novel.

Laura, whose plays include the Olivier Award winning Home I’m Darling, The Watsons and Posh, all of which transferred to the West End, also received an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in 2019.

Patrick McGuiness, who is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Oxford, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize with his first novel, The Last Hundred Days. His latest novel, Throw me to the Wolves, won The Encore Award 2020 and has been long-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2020.

During the festival, acting students will devise and record a new audio play (called Bad Reputation) alongside students at the University’s partner institution, La Trobe University in Australia, supported by professional performance makers Doppelgangster.

Would-be writers are also invited to join our MA Creative Writing masterclass series at 6.30pm each Wednesday from October 14 to October 28, featuring Paul Mendez and Yvonne Battle-Felton (Dialogue books on 14 Oct), Nikesh Shukla (Writing true fiction on 21 Oct) and Caroline Lawrence (Writing children’s fiction on 28 Oct). 

Screenwriting lecturer Hattie Naylor will also illustrate the craft of writing for radio through her experience of adapting the complete diaries of Samuel Pepys for Radio 4 (10 Oct).

In the “How to… read” programme academics are invited to discuss the pleasure of reading plays (by focussing on Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker) and graphic novels (by looking at the harrowing Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi).

Acclaimed actor and director, Samuel West, will also be leading a session on how to read aloud.

Samuel, whose latest film roles include Geoffrey Pointing in On Chesil Beach, Sir Anthony Eden in Darkest Hour and Lord Pressfield in The Gentleman, has recorded over 50 audio books, with his reading of Brighton Rock chosen as “one of the best audiobooks of all time” by the Daily Telegraph. He was also artistic director of Sheffield Theatres between 2005-2007.

Ashley Barnes, Deputy Head of Humanities at Sheffield Hallam University: “As we try and express our thoughts and feelings about the post-Covid world, words are more important than ever. 

“Our programme encourages you to find the genre that suits your desire for expression, by getting amazing authors (from fiction to scripts) to discuss how and why they write.”

Off the Shelf Festival is brought to you by the University of Sheffield and supported by Arts Council England and Sheffield Hallam University.

Some of the best known names in literature are appearing in the 2020 festival including: Simon Armitage, Lemn Sissay, Helen Mort, David Olusoga, Lee Child, Kit de Waal, Luke Jennings, Stuart Maconie, Susie Dent, Jonathan Porritt, Nazir Afzal, Dan Walker, Heather Morris, Roger Robinson, Luke Harding, Candice Brathwaite and Michelle Rawlins with Women of Steel.

Information about all the events and how to book your tickets


In this story

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Press contact

Greg Mattocks-Evans

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