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 Haunted ones
By Martin Richmond

Out of the darkness his voice trickled through to me, seeping like warm honey into my mind, so comforting and reassuring. I realised that I knew the owner of the voice well, imbued with such mellow tones…

By Alexander Denton

Don’t sleep. My fingers twitch and scratch into the armchair. My feet twist and coil around themselves on the carpet. My eyes sting and itch against the brightly lit living room. Don’t sleep.…

The Call of Blood
By Rebecca Read

Alistair knew he wasn’t allowed her. He couldn’t be with her, and God, he wanted to be with her. She was close all the time, but never within his reach. He could map out her face; draw her…

The man with the spectacles
By Mery Murray

The subtle glow of the moon illuminated the field. The only sound, throughout the entire city, being the soft buzz of electricity. A buzz sometimes comforting, but in the dead of night, when it’s…

Creative writing
By Lucinda Merriman

It was silly really, letting the weak winter daylight disappear before walking her dogs; now it was too late to get back without the dark closing in. Pulling on a coat over her expectant belly, chastising…

Riven By Janet Barker
By Janet Barker

He is my son. Obviously I love him and it is precisely for that reason that I must kill him. I can see you are shocked and think me evil. I do however have a heart, somewhere in my distant core, separate…

By Ben Shillito

The starfish possesses, in addition to his exotic sensory apparatus, his multipurpose mouth anus and his oft-noted resemblance to a star, a most singular adaptation. He has a divided brain. Moreover,…

A Deceased Pianist
By Marisa Orton

With a growl, the castle swallowed me whole. ‘Welcome,’ said our host, ushering Sam and I through the monstrous wooden door, past a window open wide enough to drain a myriad of souls. Dramatically,…

Mr. President
By Elizabeth McGinty

“Is it true can it really be my friend Hugo, so long gone has now returned to visit me amongst the damp walls of this long- abandoned church? Yes, long abandoned and all the souls who prayed their…

By Leonard Goggin

Mr Edward Clavell is a respected organ transplant surgeon and major advocate for the change in the organ donation laws recently passed by parliament. The opt-out law, or has it became known, the Clavell…

After Tonight's Performance
By Sue Gerrard

After Tonight’s Performance Tonight’s the night Vickery thought excitedly as the swirling Whitby mist wrapped itself around her body; on this night her life would change forever. The lean,…

Duality Of Man
By Afra Sterne-Rodgers

“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” Along the corridor I could make out only the peripheral lines of the hallway mirror, and the single lamp…

The Masquerade
By Isla Gaw

I’d been searching for weeks with no success. The ball was fast approaching and I was rapidly running out of options. After a distressed phone call, my mother offered to meet me in town for some…

A Self Torn in Two
By Vicky Bryan

If one man ever possessed two selves, it was Clarence. With Janette, he was caring and kind, ensuring that she was never put out in any way, whatsoever and always, always listening to her hours of meaningless,…

Morning After
By Rachel Swabey

As soon as Jake’s alarm went off he realised it was Saturday, but the sequence had been initiated and there was no override. He sat up against his will and his feet swung to the ground. His head…

Faded Dreams
By Serena Cairns

He rose to his feet and watched the grey dawn illuminate the countryside, heralded by waking birds. He needed less rest these days, and found himself lingering longer over the twilight hours at daylight…

Goodnight Mama
By Jennie Homer

Goodnight Mama “Goodnight Katie, sleep tight baby girl” Sally placed her bundle of love into the wooden cot. Sneaking out of the room Sally stopped, “The baby com.” Sally switched…

sycamore trees
By Katie Robins

I awake spontaneously: heart racing, drenched in sweat. I glance at my nightstand, there sits an empty pill bottle and glass. Sleep once came to me naturally after long nights of saponaceousness, alcohol,…

Art or Murder?
By Olivia Todd

Barbed wire sprung back, creating a new entranceway. Gerry leaned the bolt cutters against the fence. If only Gerry had inherited an estate, then his activities would have taken place in a more legal…

The Drink
By Kyra Pugh

A sip of the wine that had been sat on the crate in front of him. It burned down his throat as he stood, allowing the glass to smash on the concrete. The drink pooled at his feet, settling in the cracks.…