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


Two Can Play That Game
By Ellen Kirkman

This charming man. Such a cliché. But everybody, it is true, loved him. And oh, how he loved himself. A modern-day Narcissus, quietly smug, condescending arrogant, beloved by women who fawned over his…

Rose By Any Other Name by Patricia Good
By Patricia Good

‘Why so weary tonight, Rose?’ We talk in whispers in keeping with the shadowed recesses. As usual we’re the only inhabitants of the research library, buried deep in the bowels of the…

By David Worley

Unease Larry Kite sold funeral plans to people anticipating their departure from this world but he had no plans for his own exit. “Live for today” was Larry’s motto and let someone else…

Decaying Minds
By Daria Sviridova

There is more to her, uncalibrated, than a single mind. Told apart by the crumbling disaster she embodied one day; the demonic lustre in her eye the next. She knew something others did not. But which…

Lady Cuthbert's Diamonds
By Kate Duncan

Lady Cuthbert’s Diamonds The twins are sitting side by side in a Hackney Carriage as the fog descends over the midnight streets of London. Caroline snakes a handful of heavy gold necklaces into…

By ella holliday

I might have picked it up in the flurry of paperwork that crossed our desks. Perhaps I grabbed it from the mess of text books in the common room. I can’t know. Clusters of thick fingerprints blink…

All in my Mind
By Ian Downing

All in my Mind I am not mad. You look at me with those strange eyes and don't believe a word I say. You try to condemn me, you try to walk away from me but you can't. He's dead. We killed…

By peter slater

Twins by Peter Slater It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves: we are both the self that wants to live for ever, and the self that wants to end it all. In Sam’s…

Seeing Red
By Jane Ayres

Seeing Red by Jane Ayres Poppies. Fields of poppies. The train hurtles through the Kent countryside and the woman stares fixedly at the view from the window. Nothing but red. Fields of red. Passing in…

The Other Side
By Lizzy Bayly

I had never been as scared as I was on my birthday - the 22nd of March - when it all began. After enjoying a vibrant and emotional party with a few selected friends, I turned 50 at 9:30 at night - and…

Black Dog
By Victoria Hunter

Black Dog (by Victoria Hunter) I don't remember when the Black Dog started following my sister. Ellen simply came home one day with puppy-like worries nipping at her heels, tiny things that weren't…

Do not fear the eyes of the Watching
By Amelia Bowe

In the eyes of the Watching: there is nothing but a cascade of shadows only to cause mania, which I have found, only shows itself to one when most undreamable dreams are dreamt. As when of the raging…

Another Skin
By Ellie Cook

I am alone at last. I sit at my dressing table face to face with my reflection. My dark hair has been pinned up in delicate knots, a few strands hang down framing my face. They’ve painted my eyes…

The Shadow People
By Caroline McHardy

Moonlight slithered through the broken panes of glass as I wandered down the corridors of the old house, floorboards creaking as my feet tread. A figure wrapped in a jet-black cape and tall top hat merged…

Picture Perfect
By Eli Auslender

They were the perfect couple, beloved by their friends and looked to as the goals to which all other couples should strive. Their friends loved every single picture they posted, every single self-made…

The Section Act
By Caroline Thomas

The Section Act It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves 'cos I think I'm a lovely person no other ugly bugger does tho save the kids "Have a sedative,…

In the Shadow of the Feast
By Louise Jane King

The dogs are silent, yet still they strain towards us from the ends of their chains. It’s their masters’ eyes that snarl at us now, their semi-automatics hastily slung over their shoulders…

By Mark Miller

I noticed him crouching in the alcove outside the station, his beastly hands outstretched and his head bowed. In my British way, I patted my pockets, shrugged, and mouthed, “Sorry mate.” I…

Grim school day
By Thomas Knight

They are here. The Xcarrlar. 'Ghastly figures' attacking school in the dead of day. My school, under threat and attack. This day: a living nightmare. Daemon-like beasts battling their way through…

Technological Progress
By Patrick O'Donnell

Harold finally caught sight of the village and allowed a deep sigh to escape him. Rain was evidently a permanent citizen of Torne. Even for a place this far north the dreariness seemed peculiar. The history…