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 Disobedient Mirror
By Tamsyn Christie

Emily’s reflection isn’t always Emily. When she was younger she thought it was normal. The Other made faces and she laughed, not understanding that reflections should be like shadows. They…

A Cough is a Threat
By Claire Gee

In the unlit room someone coughed. “Whose there?” the girl asked, sounding calm despite the tsunami of terror overtaking her. Silence answered, icy and mocking. She wanted to leave- to get…

A Ghost Story
By Chris Bradshaw

She walked the 199 steps that led up to The Abby as a soft rain fell around her, her umbrella too small. She too small. The world too big. The day was grey and her attire was woefully wanting for…

Sweet Ivory
By Gina Nkwah

It was midnight and the town of Oxford was asleep. However, Ivory had just gone through the woods near her house, picking up any objects which represented a negative emotion inside her. After thoroughly…

Away from it all
By janet lister

In the end I went to the doc and he signed me off for a week with some sleeping pills. My head was always full of worries - work, health, money, Alzheimer’s, and now climate change was top of the…

Back Bacon
By Jacob Dowling

Rolling small thunder - hoofs; hoofs and dogs and mannish howls. Someone is running. Through branches broken and earth sodden; eyes scared wide. A ravine, edge shrouded in the dark; almost falling. Howls…

My Life in Sir Lanka
By piranavie thangasuthan

Dear diary, First of all, please accept my most heartfelt apologies my dear diary for not writing this sooner. In 30th March 2010, it hadn’t been a good start to the day, because of the suffering…

Falsity, or The Locked Door
By Theodore Jesson

What is reality? What is falsity? All those images you see, all those scents and feelings and experiences you have. And then you wake up, and they’re gone, just like that. Ohgodwhereamiwhatisthiswhoareyouwhoamiwhyisthishappeningtomeineverdid-…

By Lizzie Russell

After so many lies, Dan Harper could almost forget who he really was. But then his mum would jolt him back to reality. “Do you want any tea Daniel?” she called up to him. “No, I’m…

Allaenia's Encounter
By Llukwell Dert-Ethrae

The street lay dark, save for the few lamps that fizzled in and out. Traffic buzzed in the distance and the hacking of a flu infected bum cracked harshly in the slum of a neighbourhood. Passing vagrants…

In My Head
By Sarah Gate

The first time I realised that there was someone else in my head I was fifteen years old. It was around five years before I stabbed my brother. There was this moment when I was twelve where I felt like…

Ron's Curious Walk
By David Williams

The weather was bleak on the Sunday that Ron went for a walk, quite a normal activity of his. He let a breath escape his lips coming out as a white cloud in the cold winter air, normally it was a quiet…

The Cut
By Oliver Laxton

I had seen past Winter when I heard his name. I had passed through my Spring, left behind my Summer, and alone anguished in my Autumn. My winter had come; age - masked as some marsh sickness. I had been…

By Adam Spaven

ROSES Thud, thud. Two large bangs hitting the door. It was not that late in the morning, proving this as she jumps up, all confused. Her eyes just lit up. Checking the clock, it was 9.30 am. A day to…

A Ghost Thing
By Jessica Parkes

03/11/2013 Looking into the dark abyss (or the hallway), I convinced myself that nobody was coming up the stairs. I heard it again, just as I turned back to my mirror: pit, pat, pit, pat… Footsteps…

Shadow of Emotion
By Justin Turton

Mother, you have known me for a long time. Since birth actually. You have seen me as I am, both angelic and demonic. Though I think myself more angelic than demonic, something happened recently that has…

The Other Me
By Grant Lee

A grotesque and disproportionate reproduction. How dare it model me in such imperfect fashion. Nebulous fog, thick and unrelenting surrounded me and my companions until I’d emerged - alone - into…

Peter and the Wolf
By J Chambers

Peter ran and ran. Away from bullets, away from bombs, away from whistles and shrieks and cries. Away from trenches that were not fit for man or beast. He ran. His heart beat quickly, his lungs stretched…

Hear Her
By Emily Smith

The girl woke up and, as usual, she had no idea what she had done. Blinking in the bright artificial light, she felt out her surroundings like a blind man, grouping around trying in vain to uncover where…

Jack's Last Letter
By Suzanna Thurley

Dear Boss, This is a confession. HEINOUS AND THRILLING IT WILL BE; BEHOLD! THE UNRAVELLING OF THE UNPARALLELED, GREATEST MYSTERY OF OUR TIME. I shall reveal my identity in good time but haste shall not…