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


I Hace Been Here The Longest
By Sharon Rider

I like living here in this big Victorian house. In comparison with all of the other occupants, except for the man who lives up in the attic rooms, I have been here the longest. People do not seem to stay…

The White Fairy
By David Herridge

Life was grey for those working, and living around the docks at Shadwell Basin; despite the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations earlier in the year 1897. Winter made life even harder, but ships…

By Nicholas Barton

‘We will not back down against North Korea,’ a UN spokesman said on the radio. ‘No matter what.’ Claire turned it off, and listened to the groaning house. The windows were screaming…

Virtual Presence
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People considered George a loner. He wasn’t a loner, he was lonely. Lonely and gripped by a dread of dying alone. Death was far away as he was only in his fifties but spanning the next thirty years…

Acts of Terror
By Roseanne Ganley

It dawned on him rather unexpectedly, that on the night of the affair, he was, in fact, being watched. Surveillance cameras studied his every move, his ulterior motives, his reasons for betraying the…

Brownsea Castle
By Janette Gledhill

BROWNSEA CASTLE by Janette Gledhill Wet feet slapping on flagstones: footprints in the dust shaken by clangs from above. An empty larder. Smells of fried bacon and coffee (long-trapped) escaping as the…

The Lesser Of Two Evils
By Georgie Smith

I can’t control it. My alsatian stared morosely at the abomination upon the dissection table, back arched, the rigging of his spine facing the moon. Only a mad person would attempt this; one that’s…

when it came....
By Tanya Singh

Imagine a world full of darkness, where you are caught up with other residents of this world, there's no point trying to escape, for in that moment you'd realize that you are caught up in the…

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By charlie sykes

James Alby-Earl, MP and acting party leader, looked upon his surroundings and wondered how impenetrable the safe house really was. His vision was diminished- a cruel reminder of the now empty socket on…

The Resident
By Christine Procter

Fear and death await behind closed doors. As I look at the bright, red brick building I'm aware of it crumbling behind the facade. My legs don't move. It isn't the arthritis of the bones but…

Cyber Me
By Portia Dodds

One me. One I. I am me and I am one. I see my two hands and my two feet. In my mirror I see me. I see my two eyes. Two eyes but one me. Two eyes but one I. I have two eyes that see me. My mirror sees…

The Music Box
By Imogen Rowe

In all the time I had known him, Dr Jacob Belford had been a remarkable man. My father had been a close friend of his, and when I had the misfortune to be left orphaned at the age of nine he had become…

By Flicka Palmer

As Julie put her key in the front door, she heard a strange noise... Someone was laughing loudly somewhere in the house and the hideous laughter wasn’t coming from her husband Jim, who Julie had…

By Rosalind Hart

Amelia Jones lived in a town called Wintervale. Amelia really liked to meet new people; despite her keenness to meet new people, she never had very many friends at school. She had no idea why people didn’t…

We Want Rights
By Katharine Harper

A piece of art, the very portrait of flawless life. The humanoid walked smoothly, each step measured in a millionth of a second. There were no seams and no faults in this perfectly manufactured piece…

Scare of the Rise of Technology
By Edward Nash

Scare of the rise of technology I lay in my dark bedroom with yellow lights sparkling away in the background. I stare ominously at the faded, old, fizzy television. With one eye dripping with makeup focused…

By Cheryl Houghton

It was a bad omen. I duly saluted the singular magpie that was staring down at me that day and wished him a good morning. One of the many superstitions my maternal grandmother had sensibly drilled into…

Darkness Closing In
By Callum Bond

Darkness Closing In I am writing this in the hope that someone reads it. It may be too late; the shadows may have already become too strong and this may disappear as quickly as I did. In the end. To save…

Status Update
By R L Holland

The messages came through thick and fast, her phone chiming her awake. “Saw your status update- good for you!” Various emojis. A series of question marks: ????? She had no idea, either. What…

She won't let me wake up
By Holly Hirst

She won’t let me wake up. Makes me live and die through shattered fragments of her life, unglued and unattainable. Undefeatable. When you’re asleep, they wake up. Another side of the world…