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


She Eats
By Ruth Kurowski

I’d never felt so full. I was up most of the night unable to sleep, disturbed by both the persistence of the rain at my window and the nauseating swell of my stomach. Whatever She’d force-fed…

A Morning Star
By Adriano Noble

Mother told tales of forests. Canopies of greens then oranges then bare bones, stripped naked and stretched desperately towards the sky. “Trees used to die in the winter”, she'd explained.…

Cause Of Death
By Adrien Durantel

GOTHIC STORY CAUSE OF DEATH By Adrien Durantel This tale has been told from generation to generation and is quite popular. Nevertheless, this tale presents much more than just fear. It has a message.…

The Watcher
By Dan Forrester

‘I am not an animal!’ Lawrence wiped away a tear as John Merrick faced his tormentors. That bit always got him. He stretched out his arms and checked the largest monitor at the centre of the…

A Gentle Terror
By jimbob&twoforks

Bleached skinned girls laughing, leaning, teasing the pilot. Bending their knees in preparation for the long stretches of standing and smiling. But these are genuine smiles he thinks, not tacked on to…

By Aurora Bennett

Echo Veronica couldn’t quite pinpoint the first time she noticed how different she was compared to her friends. She had always felt like there was an extra layer protecting her from the cold, a…

Intimate Materials
By Louise Cook

Kaledescope bodies engulf you, pressing tight, vibrating like molecules of an organic whole. Something is happening tonight. You stalk, craning to pick out your prey across the seething, suffocating mass.…

No mans land
By david bissenden

No-man’s-land It was December 1899, in the town of Runcorn in Cheshire- once a fine spa resort beside the Mersey, now a polluted industrial town of chemical works, with their brick chimneystacks…

By Sarah Stone

You always knew that is wasn’t your fault. Even when they told you what you had done. You knew in the bones of you she still was growing and developing, hardening your core, becoming your skeleton…

By Roger Pinkham

(A dark street. Night. A young female is shown standing, waiting) SHE: I cannot go.. I cannot go further. A dark alley. Shadows on the stones.. Wait. There is a shadow.. Is it approaching? Or is it my…

The Interview
By Laura Pafomow

Over substantially wrapped I shook uncontrollably. Sweat smothered my face. My fingers twitched. The towel, tightly coiled around my body provided little heat. I raised my hand slowly, it was trembling.…

By David Shafran

Alabaster skin, prickling in the cold night air. Long, wispy black hair, spreading behind her like ethereal fingers, floating gently in the soft London breeze. As she walked through the cobbled streets…

The Record of my Folly
By Lucy McGranaghan

My death is near and certain, of that I am convinced. Yet as my end approaches, I feel myself renewed with sudden desperation, I must leave some record of my folly here, so that it may be discovered and…

Fidget by Steven Holding.
By Steven Holding

“Whatcha playin’ at fork skies?” Keith spits out the question with a venom only the undisputed king of the playground is permitted to use. The gawky youth in glasses that he towers over…

The Duality of Drama
By Lucy McGranaghan

If you truly consider it, we are all simply actors in this great play of life. Each person you pass on any mundane street wears a mask, a façade of normalcy so convincing it may fool even the most perceptive…

A Rude Awakening by Steven Holding.
By Steven Holding

The laughter that awoke her was shrill and piercing; a diamond tipped drill-bit, skewering its way directly into the centre of her brain. Marion sat up in her bed, heart a heavy metal rhythm section,…

The Mirror Unlocked
By Charlotte Williams

They closed in with every step. Bracken snagged on the folds of my skirt as I ran, twigs snapping under the footfalls of my pursuers. The thick canopy stinted the downpour; droplets fell from shuddering…

The Pardoning of the President
By Laura Pafomow

“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” The mayor was right, of course. I do not think that there was ever an instance where he was wrong. “Whether…

A heart for harmony
By Jean Kieven

A heart for harmony His fingers struck the final chord and while the low-key still reverberated through the concert hall the crowd scrambled to a standing ovation, a rhythmic frenzy of applause and awe.…


It is 3:00 am. No moon. Nick is asleep beside her. From far down the hill, on the coast road, the wail of a siren rises in the clear night air, then stops. Cara holds her breath. She slides out of bed,…