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


Through her eyes
By Javier Gomez

I was just a child when I heard it for the first time. Our tutor told us that we had to take all that rage and bury it deep down where it could never see the light again. She told me that I should put…

One down, one to go
By Miles Bavin

Mr. Waltham sat cross-legged in front of the fire. Basking in the warm glow, he stretched his arms out towards the heat; his fingers dancing a merry jig. “You see, Casper, our problem is that you’re…

Never Talk to Strangers
By Sam Pope

There’s a knock at the door. Who is it? This block of flats is empty apart from me. No one came back after the fire. So many dead. The site was declared unfit for human habitation. It was perfect…

By Eddie Mordaunt

Voices by Eddie Mordaunt I’ve never told anyone this, but I used to hear voices. The strange thing was, I couldn’t tell a word they were saying. It was as if they were in my head and on the…

Depression: My Other Self
By Morgan Millard

Sun burning through my eyelids. I-think-therefore-I-am, but more than that...? Then I begin to fill in the details: the wheres; the whens; the whos. But not the whys. That's the bit I can never pin…

A Glitch In Time
By Robert Gardham

There’s always been two of me. Growing up in the ivy-covered cottage, we are the same. Our loving parents dress us in matching denim dungarees, two red shirts, identical blue coats. Aunts and uncles…

#A Life For A Death
By maddy Bingley

The clinking of chains on the cobblestone floor. The horrible screeching of cogs, as devices were turned to pull those chains tighter. The unrequited pleas for death and mercy from the other victims.…

Truth Never Lies.
By Tracy Lane

She was indeed pathetic, with her daily nonsensical antics. I wondered, if my heart was still mine, would I even care? The answer was obvious, I wouldn't even know her. The ironic joy of Karma uncovered,…

The Angel Operation
By Shelby de Rond

And God commanded man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.” So we did. The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” We feasted on forbidden fruit. And God…

By Abigail Maskill

It is at this point on the line, about three minutes (a short song) after you get on, that you hear the “clunk”, every journey. Five evenings a week for the past six years and seven weeks.…

Possessed of Christ.
By Nearly Mellow

Liz grabs the pig by his nose. Short puffs and his wheezing grunts blow spittle into her palm, and she pokes her finger in a nostril from irritation. ‘You should be used to it by now.’ The…

Twitch, tap, calm.
By Rhea Wilson-Wright

She’s back again. Sat curled and comfy, I watch a re-run of some old show; she twitches in the company of the shadows. Avoiding her stare, I watch the life of the protagonist unfold. “Ada,”…

peak a boo
By daryll smith

I can taste your blood. I even smell it smell it in the air. i even kept that snippet of your hair i watch you as you sleep, I watch you as you eat.... i even like those socks that let your toes peak.…

By Sarah-Faith Tihngang

Talia Jamison looked at her reflection in her vanity’s mirror, displeased. She was average at best, mousy red hair falling over her cherub face and across her shapeless eyebrows unbidden, blotchy,…

A Little Chaos
By Tom Antony Davies

He keeps me in chains – but I was free, once. I was loud, aggressive, chaotic. And what’s life without a little chaos? He might blame watching eyes for my imprisonment, but I know the truth…

Listening In
By Derek Rutherford

"Listening In" by Derek Rutherford The girls had been talking about it at work. Somebody – or something – was listening in. With shocked faces they told how their phones were producing…

By Susan Storrier

IVFA But tonight… Jib Brent curves his arm around Anja Jurgen. It’s not romance. They’re both blind and they’ve lost all direction but they mustn’t lose each other. Anja…

A Dance With Death
By Rheanna Egleton

After dancing the night away with death, I yawned as I looked out of my window onto the overcast grounds of Yuline Castle. From my room on the third floor I could see the expanse of land stretched out…

By Samantha K Collinson

With razor-sharp claws, he scaled the wall towards her. The light bulb above her head shattered, as he positioned himself over her. He then reached down inside her head. She screamed as he oozed through…

Cut Back to the Wire
By Margaret Bulleyment

'Wine?' 'Thanks. You're so kind. I was just expecting to take a photo from outside.' 'It's not every day I can entertain a lady returning to her grandparents' house.'…