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 Glove
By Carolyn Ward

When he got home from school that night there was something different. There was an unfamiliar car on the driveway. He paused and looked at it for a moment. He used his key quietly. There was talking…

The Lonely Observer
By Harry Husbands

The computer's screen illuminates one half of the room that remains otherwise devoid of light. The walls are black, without windows or doors, and damp to the touch. They are suffocating. At first,…

The Change
By Claire Wilson

It happened again. The reason I didn’t like £20 notes. I was waiting for my contact in the bar. It was only normal for me to order a pint. To blend in. Even though this was a notorious pub.…

The Strange case
By Golam maula

The strange case I was upstairs cleaning when I establish a strange case I went forward to have a look, I slowly open the case there was a letter, which was neatly concealed with candle wax, I turned…

Jekyll and Hyde - men behind the maskes.
By Roxy-Isabella stone

I made my way ever so slowly to the girl of my dreams, standing there with her beautiful white mask. But how will Hyde feel when he finds out about the love I have felt for this young lady. Sighing heavaly…

By Dawn Purcell

‘Time to get the photograph album.’ ‘Great’, I say, and I paint a smile. She hobbles from the room, awkwardly, like something reanimated. Trick or treaters are outside, some bigger…

By Matt Taylor

“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” I was used to mum’s outbursts of crazy, but she was freaking me out more than usual. I’d…

By Charlie kinsella

She woke up in a cornfield with no memoires, she examined herself her clothes were tattered and dirty. It was midnight and the cornfield was right next to a deep river. She looked up at the sky moonlight…

By Jade Greenwood

Seth was awakened by the endless vexatious ringing of the landline telephone. The noise began to consolidate along with other sounds that reverberated within his feeble head. Resting back in his bed,…

Rise of a Superbug
By Joseph Bullock

“Africa. An arid, cold, deadly environment, unforgiving in terrain, with the singular outcome of death.” That’s what she wrote, but it continued. “I search for water daily, endless…

The Minimal Interface of Professor Leveau
By Benjamin Coles

So convinced they are real… these people! Fundamentally real! Don’t they see that there’s every chance they are nothing at all?! I have colleagues, philosophers, who are aware of how…

The Incubus
By Nirattisai Virunjaros

Prologue The man’s name was James du Gaulle. Clearly an adopted name, the man was clearly someone from East Asia. He had the appearance of a middle aged Asian man, though my superior said it was…

The Sleepwalker
By Ann West

The Sleepwalker By Ann West You’re here because I walk in my sleep. Don’t grin, it isn’t funny. I do lots of scary things in my sleep. One morning a neighbour asked where I’d gone…

the morning after
By Eithne Cullen

Throwing back the covers, Mason started towards the bathroom. He noticed that his hands were caked with dry, hard stains. Under his fingernails he felt the sticky, congealed grime, it must be blood. He…

Hidden Beneath
By Emma De Vito

The train sped past sending a rush of air towards her. Someone standing behind her warned, ‘Don’t stand so close to the edge’, but she ignored them, pushing the words away. Looking down…

Mirror Image
By Rosemary Gemmell

She had always been a little afraid of the huge red sandstone building. Standing alone amongst trees and grassy embankments reached by a dark winding road through massive gates, the Gothic Victorian architecture…

So Far Survivors
By Jean Hatton

Toby's remains are in the water a few metres away. It would have taken great strength to have hurled the body that far and will have happened when the change was upon me. Swallowing the throatful…

The Story of a Poor, Poor Girl
By Valentina Schutze

Have you ever heard of Roald Dahl? I'd be surprised if you hadn't. Arguably one of the best authors of children's books of all times, famous for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda,…

By Charlie Green

I glare at the screen. A Hedonistix Bonanza advert. Automatic citizen entry. I hate Hedonistix. My wife tells me she’s the only one at work with wrinkles now. I tell her she’s beautiful as…

By Melissa Manganaro Manganaro

I watched him through the trees as he burned my village down to the ground. I stayed silent as the screams of my family echoed off the forest around me. The darkness shrouded me as my silent vigil began.…