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


Shelley's Nightmare
By Alizon Robertson

A constant high pitched ringing pulled Shelley awake. She tried to rise but a malevolent weight squatted on her chest. Ding, ding, ding, the sound trilled again, light as a tin bell hit with a tiny hammer,…

Oh, Flute and I'll Come to You, My Lad!
By Kath Allen

Oh, flute, and I’ll come to you, my lad! By Kath Allen It may be that we possess two selves instead of one... It was a night forever etched upon my memory. A wild storm raged outside as I stood…

Merch y Duw Arian
By Pab Roberts

Talk had it she was from the island. There weren’t supposed to be folk living there, apart from the lighthouse men. She was a foundling. Dr Innes had taken her in as a baby and raised her alone…

All Mine...
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You’re so pretty. Your silky blonde hair that you apply coconut oil to once a week, that you only wash every other day. You use an off brand, organic, hemp shampoo. You got it cut recently. You…

Double Act
By Mishika Tripathi

I hurriedly dashed into my bedroom; flinging of my schoolbag in a type of furious-grief as I did. I was so immersed in emotion that, for one mad moment, I considered sinking into the heavenly mattress…

A Dead Man
By Scarlett Dragone

He was always the Benvolio of the group: the man was a peace-keeper, intent on balancing it all. It is fascinating, now that I view his life in retrospect, how he hid everything under such a simple mask.…

Worth it
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I’ve always avoided wasting money on luxuries, living simply at home with Millie, my labrador, a dog from the rescue centre where I work. I have no aspiration to achieve the sparkling perfection…

By Emma Scullion

She closed her eyes and sighed heavily, the red glow of the iridescent sunset penetrating her eyelids, the sea calm and seagulls could be heard overhead; to her it had always sounded like they were saying…

By Jan Kaneen

Dangerous things, windows - for their transparency and fragility - so tempting from the outside in. I should know, I spend half my life looking through them. I’m doing it now, staring into secret…

By Jacob Williams

As it happens I would have much preferred to keep the details of the serial killings in the small town of Monstrous a secret but due to recent media interest I feel obligated to enlighten those who’d…

A House Divided
By Jane Guz

A House Divided I’d never wanted to move house. He made me. Instead of white, spartan Scandi-style I was forced into his choice. Dark, heavy furniture made of wood that, once sacrificed, would take…

By Karen McDermott

“I know you’re only saying these things because you’re a little crazy at times…” Twisting her words again. He looked up at her from the laptop screen. Even resenting his…

Do you know the person next to you?
By Peter Rowlands

Do you know the person next to you? I mean, do you really know them? It could be a friend, a partner or even a relative, but do you really know them? What if the person next to you was not really the…

The Tallow Chandler's Widow's Valediction
By Alyson Faye

“Twenty years we were wed; twenty years I shared your bed. Nine babies birthed; one third born dead. Always I warmed your heart and hearth. I sewed, scrubbed, cooked and fornicated - all the while…

Our life
By Mark Warren

I love it in here. I love how the blood looks almost fluorescent. I love how it splatters everywhere. Outside everything is always dull. Diluted. But in here it’s so much more. And the feeling.…

Me or Me?
By Caroline Swain

Me or Me? “Where did you get that dress?” I look down at the floor length, purple silk. I hadn’t been wearing it this morning I’m sure. I don’t own a purple silk dress. A…

Crimson Tide
By Barbara Young

The mirror is a large oval of bright glass encased in a heavy gold surround. Goats and elves, devils and satyrs, dance in the ornate filigree. We lift it onto the wall. The metalwork is cool and yet my…

Emily: The Modern Persephone
By Sophie Meadows

2nd April, 2018. BBC News Reports The mother of the girl who killed her two-year old sister in Bristol last year has released a statement by way of warning to parents to monitor their children's media…

The Good One
By Scarlet

Another day of marching against the current administration and crimes against our fellow man. This was Sadie’s life. The 30 year old, white, straight women felt this was her calling. She loved helping…

Kind Hearts and Coronaries
By munib haroo

He woke from surgery with a midline scar and Charlotte part of him, forever. The scar, like the A.I. heart, wasn’t optional, but the name was his choice. “You can name it anything you like,”…