Mary Portas and Val McDermid among speakers at Off The Shelf literary festival

Pictured in Rotherham Town Centre is Mary Portas
Pictured in Rotherham Town Centre is Mary Portas
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Retail guru Mary Portas, civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, thriller writer Val McDermid and politician Shirley Williams are among high-profile speakers at one of the largest literary festivals in the UK.

Off The Shelf, which has been running in Sheffield since 1991, offers more than 200 events for all ages in venues ranging from theatres to pubs to churches.

This month’s festival brings together writers, historians, artists, scientists, journalists and musicians with audiences having the opportunity to listen, question, create and discover some secrets…

Among the speakers will be Chesterfield-born writer Sunjeev Sahota who is on the shortlist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Sunjeev will be reading from and talking about his award-nominated second novel, The Year of the Runaways at Sheffield University Students Union on October 18.

Mary Portas will talk about her rise from humble beginnings to becoming one of the world’s leading advisers on retail strategy. The guru shares stories from her memoir, Mary Portas: Shop Girl, at the Crucible Theatre on October 21.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights organisation Liberty, has written her first book. She explores the themes contained in her publication, On Liberty, and talks about why fundamental rights and freedoms are indispensable in her talk on October 10 at the University of Sheffield Students Union.

Queen of psychological thrillers Val McDermid, who is best known for her Wire in the Blood series, has sold more than 11 million books to date. Join Val at the Millennium Gallery on October 15 .

Shirley Williams, co-founder of the Liberal Democrats, will talk movingly about her mother Vera Brittain who volunteered as a nurse in France during the First World War. Vera lost her fiance, brother and two close friends in the war, prompting her to write Testament of Youth. Shirley’s talk is at the Crucible Theatre on October 29.

For more details on the festival, which is running from October 10 to 31, see. www.offtheshelf.gov.uk or call 0114 273 4400.