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


Behind Closed Doors
By Claire Jenkins

“Well, this is inconvenient.” The room was dark; candle light flickering as the wicks ran out, casting moving shadows along the walls. George poured himself a whisky from the drinks cabinet.…

Grace and no favour
By Holly Kernot

Having examined it from all angles and in not so spectacular technicolour, Grace concluded old age sucked. It had been a restless night. She examined her paper thin skin, bathed in the sickly light that…

Back to Nature
By Julie Evans

Back to Nature Now I know. Dermatitis, fuzzy white patches in my mouth, swollen lymph nodes. Terrified, I forget that I love him and blame Greg. He leaves in a wounded fury and I don’t know that…

By Emma Dredge

The wind screamed through the night, ripping trees apart like paper as Chrissy arrived home. Her twin sister, Ruthie stood at the window, watching the rain fling violently against the filthy pane. “Why…

Collateral Damage
By Caroline Gardiner

I did kill her. It’s what I trained for. Back from a third tour in Iran, they decided I was too broken to go back. I had tried to strangle the doctor. She had the same green eyes as the girl suicide…

Something More Than This
By Sarah Wilding

A kind of static charge is in the air; this room is breathless and she is suffocating. It’s late into the night and she sits in her cubicle, finger scrolling down a never ending page as her eyes…

Number Three
By Robert Laird

Number Three looks semi-derelict now, some of the windows have threadbare curtains drawn across and it emanates a general aura of gloom and despondency, threatening almost. It seems deserted, but you…

By Arthur Ormrod

No! no! no!’ The engine coughed, spluttered and died. ‘Dammit’, miles from nowhere, dark and already late. The hoarse whirr of the starter motor, a hopeless mechanical coughing penetrating…

By Owen Townend

We would meet for breakfast in the broad daylight. I touched her hand. She shrank back immediately but tried to smile this away. "No-one knows who we are here," I explained to her, "We're…

He Who Dines on Heavenly Food
By Robert Tamplin

Levi reeled towards his oaken front door, pressing the button on his keyring. The door swung open automatically and Levi kicked it closed behind him. The security screen showed the mob streaming along…

Marsha and Gregory are pleased to announce ........
By Beverley Carpenter

“Are you awake?” I’ve only just woken, so perhaps he’s not ready. Why think of ready or not ready? I’m not sure of anything, but perhaps things will become clearer in time.…

The Man Beneath
By Susan Murphy

The Man Beneath Have you ever asked yourself if it is possible than far from being one, we may possess two selves? I didn’t, not until it was too late. Six weeks before I came to the realisation…

Grim the Reaper
By Severine Demaude

Grim was tired. His deepest and most sincere wish was that he could spend the evening lounging in his favorite chair, a glass of whiskey in his hand. Fate however had other ideas. Grim grumbled rising…

By Sally Wong

The banging continues in the cellar. Warily, she made her way down the cold stone staircase, hugging the flashlight close to herself. The dim yellow light illuminating her descent shivered. It was halfway…

The Blood Hunt
By Bas de Beer

Today she was late and I was already awake, eager with anticipation while trying to ignore the gnawing fear that she would not come. I was very aware that she would have been roaming the city this night…

Bella Donna
By Ariane Compton

I lay in bed, twisting my ringlets around my finger. Despite my best efforts, I could not drift to sleep, as my heart ached for the loss of my daughter. How I missed her, although it had only been four…

Mammy's Here
By Jan Brown

Bexley Villa. Even the name was enchanting to Rose, bringing back memories of her adored childhood home and those special times with mammy and papa, before the headaches had taken control. “But…

The Baleful Knowledge
By Maureen Watson

One dusky night I wandered aimlessly down from Swanston village to the Hunters Tryst. Looking out on the pink Firth of Forth, my thoughts were called away to high adventures. Suddenly I heard a haunting…

The Beast Within

Kyle was alone inside the bright room. Test tubes were shattered on the floor, and their contents had dried onto the once gleaming tiles, which were now discoloured or corroding, and amongst the wreckage…

Evil behind the Dog-Collar
By Belinda Daly

Vicar John Price is a man of cruel character and hides his brutality behind his dog-collar. He hates the 21st century and its modern technologies. Though, he is only 30, he has the mind of a misanthropic,…