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


Don't Blink
By Nayan Nepaul

Don't Blink The house seemed unblemished. There it stood staring at all the other disfigured houses indicating to them that it was the most stunning. It shone like a scintillating creature luring…

By oliver read

The night grew dark, the clouds gathered above the windowless, run-down building. Ivy climbing the walls racing to the top. The thick fog accumulated on the long driveway. Brown crumpled leaves calmly…

By Alex Sebastos

BILLY The sky was dark, darker than usual, darker than had ever seen before. Not even the rays of moon light could help lighten the obfuscous scene. Thick rivers of sweat streamed down the boy’s…

The Figure in the Night
By Bisesh Sitaula

The Figure in the Night The group of children huddled together, shivering as they gazed out past the rusty window. The barren wasteland, normally tranquil aside from the occasional tumbleweed being pushed…

By Harry Antill

Fog lay thick upon the silent road, the tall stone buildings narrowing down upon the darkness below. A silhouette lingered at the outside corner of a building. From across the street approached an elderly…

Concealed Character
By Calvin Tran

This tale went on about a narcissistic girl, obsessed with her comeliness. Her flaxen hair evoked the shade of a sunbeam passed through a window. Her prepossessing face demanded full attention at all…

The room
By Tito Babayemi

The room was desolate, motionless and quite trivial. No form of life was felt or present. It was a plain pale blue room with only a window to the left of the hospital bed, which was in the centre of the…

By Tobi Owolabi

Rise Darkness, that’s what we called it. Striking fear into our hearts as people walked along the over stretched pavement. It was a punishment from God they said. The Howling wind that rustled the…

By Milo Evans

When the disease broke out the world consternation. But it started actually doing something when its symptoms started. In a sort of response a team were given the task to cure it; Max, Hailey, Jennie…

By Milan Patel

Why did she do it? This is a story about a man called Pierre. At the time it happened Pierre was a fairly old man, about 57, he lived on his own in a dilapidated mansion, which he inherited after both…

By Kyle Butler

Creature Fog wrapped over town, at level height there was a tall brick watch tower scouting out the whole town. As the clock struck 9 o’clock, the moon hovered watching over. The town as mostly…

Britten's Final Enigma
By Ricky Taing

Professor Britten was just enjoying his afternoon tea, after solving a series of crimes culminating with a day off in his eccentric abode. He lived in a quaint though comfortable residence, with a little…

By Sam Kite

Mr Fahim was a simple, yet dull man. 35 years old, large build for his size. He was a known local postman in the town of Dulmary. In his spare time, he would listen to classical music in his red velvet…

Operation Outbreak
By Sebastian Leonties

As I lay there in the dark and dingy room, my pistol aimed at the door, the overwhelming shakiness in my hands started to take over my whole body. It was happening, the transformation, after all the struggle.…

The knife from the night before
By Lewis Onabanjo

He tossed and turned, drowning in his own sweat that cascaded down his face like the dew on an early spring morning. Images of it, flashed through his mind, synchronized with his haphazard heartbeat…

The House
By Somto Agbugba

It was a frosty and gloomy January afternoon. Fog so thick that it was only possible to see a few metres ahead. The uncertainty of what was ahead of you was unsettling and the feeling of isolation was…

Driven by Insanity
By Samuel Osei

Driven by Insanity By Sam.O 10B This asylum was different from others. Its presence seemed so strong the doors were enough to pull you into your torment and throw you out like utterly destroyed trash.…

An Evil Incursion
By Nimi Salu

After the numerous exceptional and peculiar reports surrounding the concept of sleep paralysis, I, Dr. Angel Dove, decided to induce the effect that has produced so much contention. Within the records,…

By Babafunto Ojo

NOWHERE TO BE FOUND “Thomas!” His mother called at him from the bottom of the stairs, as if expecting him to answer. What could this woman possibly want from him at this time, he wondered?…

Blood in the Bathtub
By Jessica Harrison

Rain flusters against the window pane, turning Arthur’s reflection into a blurry mess. He rubs his hands together. He made a treehouse for his daughter with these hands. He lifted her with them,…