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


Eventual Effigy
By Tiffany Seacole

Anne was a good girl. She dressed chastely, read deeply, and had little interest in boys. And she saw her double. Her mousy hair, wrangled into ringlets. Her freckled legs, gangling from under short skirts.…

By Alexandria Oulton

Deliciously warm, sticky blood covered nearly every inch of me, matting my lovely long, dark hair into tight curls, which will have looked even more beautiful in the dim lowlight. Her head hung loosely…

Fractured Reflections
By Ellie Wilson

I look into the mirror, covered in sharp, angular cracks that spread far along the surface of my reflection, and continue deep into the gaping mouths that cover the wall upon which the mirror’s…

First Date
By Gail Richardson

Of course it was raining. I had spent an hour curling my hair into perfect waves only to step out of the tube station into the downpour without my umbrella. I waited – as agreed – under the…

Sweet Confessions
By Riadeep Dhillon

I am an obstruction of a human being. I live everyday in peril. The peril of the sirens of justice escorting me and my soul into captivity. Guilt is tattooed when my eyes flutter close for a hibernation…

Growing Pains
By Rebecca Burton

Bzz! Bzz bzz! Phoebe’s eyes snapped open and she reached out to snatch her phone as it vibrated itself off the nightstand. She stared at the list of notifications in confusion. She’d gone…

How They See Us

The night was dark and the storm was wild. Rain stuck the young prince’s clothes to his body as the sounds of thunder drowned out his footsteps. Good. The beast shall never hear him coming. The…

The Charm by Scott L'Honore Naber
By Scott L'Honore Naber

Lightning flashed and thunder announced the storm’s grave arrival. The rain increased from a mild shower to a downpour. Even in the midst of the storm, something was nagging at Martin about his…

Laid Bare
By Nyah Davis

She had begun with the impression that he intended to meet after work, on the corner by the place that sold her favourite coffee, but had left with the inverse of both smile and sentiment. That was the…

By Oscar Smith

I was sat in the corner of the padded room, eyes closed and legs stretched out in front of me. I was trying to remember my mother’s face, I think. She had a long face and strong features bordered…

By Catherine Bundy

The lightbulb’s slow burn offers little respite from the darkness closing in. Ellen pours herself a generous glass of wine; satisfying splashes of crimson settle to dense ruby. She collapses into…

A Fish Asunder
By Colin Heaney

The phone spoke to Harold - it spoke to him in a way no person ever could. There was beauty in this symbiotic relationship, in his ability to upload a better version of himself into another plane. So…

My Medical Other
By Lucy Skinner

“We think you have bipolar disorder.” These are the last words I remembered before my wife’s and my marriage changed forever. I should introduce myself; my name is Samuel Jones. I live…

The Eyes
By Jacques Bonnett

Fear is a feeling which is all around us; it is inescapable. You will always have fear; it is as certain as death. Jack opens his eyes; he looks around. He sees the window, outside a tree and in the branches,…

The Death of Corella Leatherworth
By E.B. Johnson

THE DEATH OF CORELLA LEATHERWORTH Corella drank the poison and laid down on the bed. The folds of her favorite dress splayed around her like the delicate petals of a flower. She knit her hands over her…

By Keith Large


By Rebecca Ann Barnes

I started as the thunder echoed through the decaying hotel. Flashes of lightning pierced the caked grime of the ninth floor windows, lighting up the ugly hall. Mould mushroomed through the walls, peeling…

Let It Free
By Hayley Hemming

“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” The words constantly echoed through my head, I whispered them to myself before they came in to the room,…

By Jean Cooper Moran

I steady the car, dropping a gear as it sways towards the crown of the road. This winding, narrow route overhung with dark and dripping foliage challenges my driving of the swollen-bodied SUV, my husband’s…

Murderous Duality
By Cara Saunders

History: Male born 2112, orphaned in 2117 due to a house fire. Forenames: Aiden. Surnames: Davu. Rating: 50%. It is madness how my entire life can be summed up and spat out by a machine. Around one hundred…