Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Robert Louis Stevenson is remembered as a master of suspense, creating twisted tales with dark atmospheres of mystery and horror. Stevenson’s gothic novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has remained so influential and deeply rooted in the public’s imagination that there is perhaps no greater symbol of a person split between the forces of good and evil.

Stevenson wrote the novel after a ‘strange condition of collapse’, in which he claimed he wasn’t his own man even afterwards. British Library curator Greg Buzwell says "Jekyll and Hyde explores the theme of the human mind and body changing and developing, mutating, corrupting and decaying, and all do so in response to the evolutionary, social and medical theories that were emerging at the time".

Since its early beginnings, gothic fiction has been allowing writers to explore contemporary fears, now we’re asking you to do the same. Think about the things people fear today — the rise of technology, the use of social media, terrorism, surveillance and privacy, climate change. We could keep going, but we'll leave that up to you. 

We want your terrifying tales!
We want you to write a 500-word tale of terror using the following quotation from the play's script as inspiration:

 “It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.”

Following in the gothic tradition, think about the fears we have today and how they could be expressed in a dark but fun and emotional tale.  Your tale should grip the reader in the way that gothic novels of the late 19th century captured the imaginations of their Victorian readers.  There should be an intellectual thread running through the story.


Elements of gothic fiction you could consider include

  • Melodrama and sensationalism
  • An element of the supernatural
  • Intense or heightened emotion
  • Significant focus on setting

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is touring theatres across the UK from February - May 2018. Everybody that takes part in this project will receive a £10 ticket offer on up to two tickets to see Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at their nearest theatre. View the full tour schedule here

At each city or town, Theatre Cloud and our network of theatres will select two tales to send to the cast of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. An actor will then choose their favourite tale and perform a filmed reading at the theatre. Each reading will be available to watch online and makes it onto the shortlist.

In the final week of the tour, the Tell A Tale judges will review the shortlisted tales and decide which one comes top and receives an award of £300.  Other awards include Jekyll and Hyde posters signed by Phil Daniels and family tickets to Dracula in Autumn 2018. 

Greg Buzwell, Curator of Contemporary Literary Archives at the British Library. Co-curator of Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Dr Monica Germana, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Westminster. Teaches Writing London, a module which introduces the fundamental principles of short-story writing, such as setting, character, plot and structure. Research focuses on contemporary fiction, the Gothic and popular culture.
Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University, founding member of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Met. Co-organising 14th International Gothic Association conference in 2018.

Get Involved

Watch the shortlisted stories 

Register to and add your submission

Deadline: Saturday 21 April 2018


1. Entry to this project is free and open to persons of all ages who reside in the UK.

2. Your story must be your own original work and must be unpublished at the time of entry. We accept no responsibility should entrants ignore these Terms & Conditions. Short stories should be fictional and must be no longer than 500 words in length.

3. Submit your story by registering to theatecloud and uploading your work via the online form. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept submissions by other methods. All submissions will be published here on the project page.

4. Submissions will be judged on how closely they fit the gothic tradition and the inspirational quotation.

5. Entrants retain all rights to their entries but by submitting a story to the project, grant and acknowledge our right to publish the story as required in promoting the project and in the fulfilment of prizes.

6. Due to the large number of entrants, we are unable to respond individually to all submissions

7. We expect to receive large numbers of submissions on the day of deadline so advise people to try to submit before this date.

8. Entry opens on Tuesday 31 October 2017 and closes on Saturday 21 April. Submissions received after this deadline will not be accepted.

View submissions


Submissions are currently closed


The Prime
By Keira Francis

Carrie sat hunched over her laptop, unperturbed by the looming shadows above her. The light from the screen cast a sickly glow across her plump face. She pushed away an errant strand of lank hair as she…

The submission
By Beatrice Armstrong

The sound of gulls is a constant accompaniment to her hunched progress as she passes a Ferris wheel, as she passes the beach, as she passes the whole town as it stupidly sleeps. She aches from sitting…

By Tanya Sealey

“You scared me!” My husband, back from work, walks into the bedroom and finds me curled on the bed with my laptop. “Sorry,” I reply, “still working.” Our son has turned…

Taking Over the Toys
By Rose Krawczuk

The island was barren and deserted for the winter; the days of foreboding darkness and frantic storms drove the inhabitants to the mainland. But two people were left at the big mansion beside the docks…

My Apathetic Point of View
By Gregory Harbot

In Sharm El Sheikh, the first awful, clinging outlook was thrust upon me, and there it gripped firmly to my mind, having pioneered its ways through my sweet, childish ears. Back then, I discovered what…

After Every Party I Die
By Gillian Weatherstone

Hammer, hammer. Relentless and foreboding. Steel on steel. Hammer hammer, flesh against bone. I’m Alive. Hopeful. Ready. Or I will be in a few more strokes. I will do it right this time. I step…

By Nelson Brooks

Calpurnia wiped the blood from the blade; it was helpful this relationship. She thought of the Karate Kid, Wax on Wax off. One hand killed the other hand cleaned. She quickly removed all evidence from…

Mine Eyes Dazzle
By John McNorvell

Some men are evil and when they die they are not mourned. No-one wept when they carried his shrouded corpse through the red door. A few scientists were permitted to enter and they emerged grim faced and…

Tableau - 'un-vivant'
By JJ Cassell

Tableau – ‘un-vivant’ The best moments are the still, silent ones just afterwards as the adrenaline subsides. It’s like smoking post-coital cigarettes. Because real premeditated…

Delirium Reverie
By Stefan Wdowiak

The wheelchair dragged and splurged as she looked down at the stinking mud and decaying leaves as she was forcibly taken on the ascent to her new abode. Her thoughts leaped and bounded, colours….…

His Profile
By Jessica Woodward

Ryan George, Senior Algorithm Hero at the emerging start-up Informify, had not chosen the ideal evening to do overtime. Dank November fog smothered the industrial estate where Informify rented a flimsy…

By Natasha Judson- Richardson

The deathly silence of the corridor was hardly unexpected in this old fortress. Although hosting the party with gossiping intellectuals and faint melodies of violin tunes, a few thick doors had quickly…

The Music
By Leema Ahmed

The ball had been spectacular. Afterwards Jack carried me to our chamber laughing and kissing my face all over. Waking later, a pretty mazurka lingered in my mind, and I felt thoroughly happy for once.…

Lady Lichford's Visit
By Toby Grimes

Lady Emily moves a little more ponderously each year, but with no less purpose as she strides along the gallery of Lichford: my family’s seat for three centuries. I follow dutifully as she makes…

By simon carter

Written By Simon Carter Thunder rumbled when the doors of the old mansion swung open. Rain dripped from the clothes of Gudrun as he made his way up the ornate wooden staircase. Lightening hit the eyes…

Fractured Time
By angela Stevenson

"It might be possible of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves." This quote is from one of my favorite books, Frankenstein. I never thought it could get this bad, but it…

The Life and Death of Jeremy Swamp
By Thomas Williams

I had walked the same route to work for years, which is why it surprised me to see a dilapidated bookshop now wedged between the familiar chemist and often-visited bakery. Curiosity got the better of…

She's Ready
By Danielle Carter

“We choose the face we show in public,” Dad said to Lottie after he saw the length of her skirt. “Make a better choice.” Dad's words stuck. Did Mum choose to be restricted…

Perfect Circle
By Jessica Nicholls

“It might be possible, of course that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” … There’s a fullness that slips away as consciousness descends. I struggle to detect my pulse…

One Hell of a Party
By Gail Armson

Dense woodland allows a glimpse of Gothic turrets above dark treetops. “Eva! Let’s get to that house.” “I don’t feel too good, Joe. Let me sit down.” Eva sinks to the…