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 Andy Mee

His screams were out there somewhere, rolling in the mists of Cobalt Lake’s biting dusk winds. Although I could no longer hear that ecstasy of fear in his incessant pleading, I knew they were with…

By Russell Welch

I descend the rough stone steps of the passage, torch in hand. The time has come to meet Her at last. My subconscious compels me to move forward, step by step. To salvation. To bliss. The locals call…

My Monster in the mirror
By Athena Sagar

The Shadow… The Monster… It is always there. Lurking. Stalking. Existing. Hidden in shadows, mirrors, the corner of my eye, where I can almost see it, but never be certain It exists. I miss…

By Emma Scullion

She looked down at her hands, bloody, bleeding, battered, a severed forefinger dangling by a nerve and a vein. She was used to feeling nothing, feeling so numb that she would routinely cut her own arm…

In Two Minds
By Sim Smailes

“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves…” Dr John Robertson paused before continuing, “…and both manifestations may be completely…

By Tammy Intrasena

If beauty were a sound it would be the syllables of your name, Eliza. Eliza. Have you ever heard a word so divine? E-li-za. I can still smell the dampness of the night we met; close my eyes and there…

By Kat Hunter

The whirring of the machine came closer to my head, ringing in my ears. A needle passed into the soft skin behind my ear. It burrowed deeper until it reached a cluster of nerves. I felt my eyes close.…

The Narcissist
By Mairi Logie

The Narcissist She leaned over the battlements. There was no way she would survive the fall. The city stretched below full of people who did not care whether she lived or died. She thought back to when…

By Christine Law

Johnnie Gentle looked at himself in the mirror the internet was a great way to meet victim' s they only had themselves to blame,those silly stupid impetuous woman. His eyes lit up thinking how he…

The Crow
By kayleigh mills

The evergreens were a black smudge against the blood of the dying sun as he idly observed Margot scurry towards the edge of the forest. The trees were unwrapped and exposed; skeletal branches grabbed…

Kevin Hummings
By Tavinder New

Kevin Hummings Kevin Hummings had luscious hair, cheekbones and broad shoulders proportioned to the rest of his god like body. His eyes were green and bright, once you stared into them you were transformed…

The Grim Reaper
By Cerise Buckle

It was the first day Death was staying with Sofia. After the ‘unsuccessful attempt’ of collecting her soul, he gained the alias John Smith and was now living under her roof. Yes, it was unprofessional…

My Vampire Crush
By Alice Wilmot

When I watch him play, his body entails into the instrument. Everything syncs together like the notes which play through the strings. His hair droops down to one side and his forehead creases each time…

The Chill
By Summer Wyatt

You find you see him more and more as the days go on; his emotionless, cold eyes watching your every move. Never fully, and never for long but you know he’s there, silently waiting. You were visiting…

December 1924 - Cotton Club
By Erika Blazevic

Star Tavern was full of drunks and dancers in the early morn, ragtime echoing on the phonograph. Bodies being swung around in a chaotic fashion, Battenberg flapper dresses cutting the air as they twist…

Devil's Price
By Aaliyah Martin-Clarke

I'm back to where I started. I really didn't want to come back, but it was inevitable. I remembered everything that went on in that spooky house. The doors made the same noise as irritated mice.…

Somewhere Just Off the Map
By Madeleine McDonald

“What are you playing at?” Rachel dropped her case on the bed and rounded on Tom. “Your Christmas invite was not because I’m Australian and on my own, right?” He looked hurt.…

The Werewolf.
By Poppy Crossland

A hazy mist blanketed the moors. I was sure I had seen this place before. The crooked tree’s claw, poised to strike, the black church’s winding spire- a witch’s finger- pointing into…

By Adam Spaven

ORPHANS Midnight had approached, a full new moon shone bright. The party silenced with all seeking guidance or permission of sort. Every man or woman placed a mask of choosing required by all as an obligation…

De Profundis
By Kathleen Dillon

My cell is spartan, impersonal, free from ornament. I am in bed but awake. At home, my surrender to sleep is immediate, brought on by evenings of over-indulgence. But here, tonight, I am hungry, sober…