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


By oscar theodosiou

PARADISE DEATH. A funny thing. A never ending sleep. Some people believe in heaven and hell. Good and bad. But is anyone truly good. I know I’m not. Bad luck haunts me day and night. Does that mean…

Observations of an optimist
By Puran Thumber

The sky was an eerie shade of blue and birds flew graciously, spreading delightful harmonies throughout the air. I observed life going on as usual, pondering on the simply ignorant idea that the humble…

Short Sentenced Prisoner
By Nathan Young

“He’s awake.” That was the siren that filled my ears. My eyes sprung open like a pair of Jack in the boxes, except what was greeting me wasn’t an excitable child on Christmas day.…

The Cabin
By thomas staggs

A large man with a map in one hand and a pocket knife in the other entered the woods. His footsteps echoed through the silence. The fog hung low in the sky. The trees lunged at him with a mace of spikes…

Damian's Voices
By Sam Driscoll

Casually yet cautiously, strolled Damian through the forest, alone at last and free to be whatever he wanted. His blue overalls became draped with mud due to the heavy rain that flicked specks of it up…

That old room
By Jack Miller

John awoke in that same old, dusty infirmary he had grown to hate. The gash from a blade on his hip felt deeper. The doctors arrived, with their scalpels and tools that could kill him easily in hand.…

a lost woman
By Josh Kinnaird

Before me was a large, rusted gate that seemed untouched for years. It was covered in thick cobwebs and the tips held a faint smell of moss. As I pushed forward, the gate let out a high-pitched creaking…

The Computer
By FierceDeity Productions

The Computer The room was lit by the hard hue of the screen. Before him, the obfuscated output ripped across the monitor as flashes of unintelligible code. Waiting in anticipation, his sweaty hands dug…

By Manali Devnoor

There are times when our minds stop us from believing what we cannot see, yet sometimes, they do the very opposite. Rain fell mercilessly from the sky, it’s unforgiving thunder rolling heavily in…

The Kidnapping
By finn green

The kidnapping There was a low murmur as the adults drunk their wine in a little pub in Italy. Football was playing on the TV and a cheer, when their favourite team scored. The children were playing pool…

Left Over
By Karen Kendrick

Nobody calls around at this time. Rob will be on the M6 by now so it isn’t him. It rings out again: a shrieking metallic sound, refusing to be ignored. ‘Yes?’ My voice sounds sharp.…

The Last Bet
By Mike Conlan

I loved to bet on the races and yes, that's what killed me. I'm now talking from beyond the grave so that might explain the tremor and disappointment in my ghostly voice. Don't worry I'm…

The Hound Returns
By Jacob Hyde

Watson once said something to me: “It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” It was, I understand, a quotation from a novel. I had not at that point…

James`s story
By Ellis Riverol

The blasting sounds of the blaring sirens shook the whole house as James shot out of bed like a bullet. He looked out of his dusty window and saw huge swarms of terrified people flooding through the streets…

The One
By Oliver Murphy

Silence. Movement. Chanting. “I devote myself to the One…”. The words spit repetitively out of my mouth simultaneously with the silent in-time whisper of wind gasping through the hangars…

The Last Word
By Peers M S Carter

By Peers Carter [email protected] The Last Word. Jonathan was proud of being ambidextrous. Ever since he was at school, Jonathan would take every opportunity to prove how skilful he was with both…

The Perfect Murders
By Abigail Lewis

The Perfect Murders Madelyn froze! With graceful swiftness, she glided towards the source of the sound, silently pondering who had invaded her dwelling. Not a human… Surely not a human……

By Mike Conlan

It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves. Jacob watched the transparent glass tumbler as it lifted off the long brown table with no visible strings. It expanded…

My True Self
By Nick Pronger

Pitter, patter, pitter, patter started the rain as I picked my way down the moss-caked path towards the notorious manor. After such a long trip, I thought how distant one must be to reside in such a macabre…

The Last Word
By Peers M S Carter

The Last Word Jonathan was proud of being ambidextrous. Ever since he was at school, Jonathan would take every opportunity to prove how skilful he was with both hands. He would throw or catch balls, play…