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


Night Manoeuvres
By Sarah Ann Hall

Daniel looks up from a paper-strewn desk as Rosemary enters the staffroom. Mousey, small, she is insignificant, a nobody. ‘Rose-marie,’ he booms, ‘can I make you a coffee?’ ‘Oh,…

Being in Two Minds
By Tim Hayes

I was besides myself with excitement. Literally. There was another me standing next to myself and I was in a scared and excited state. I had no idea how this had come about. I turned to myself and asked,…

Earls revenge
By Tim Davies

"Earls Revenge" The former steward to the Earl of Russex closed the door on the sheriff with a sigh of relief. His thoughts racing. `looks like he swallowed the story of the accident, murder…

By Rob Nisbet

Palingenesis The tall spike-tipped gate was barely illuminated by the stuttering gas lamp, but Emily could see that it was locked. A precious breath escaped her, misting in the air. She hadn’t the…

The Scarlet Woman
By Mhairi Campbell

Moonlight shadows on dark lit rooms only beckon me further to the source of the babbling. It began last night, a faint knocking on my mind, and John only laughed when I told him. Margaret looked at me…

Within the Castle Walls
By Danielle Roberts

The cold night air was emphasised by the bitter, howling wind. A large, blinding bolt lit up the empty sky, revealing the moon’s faceless form in full. Thunder shook the vast land around the looming…

By Linda Ann Johnson

VICIOUS Impassioned, I rip flesh from the cadaverous corpse. An assassin, I tell myself; this was not a tramp but an assassin out to kill me. Blood splatters out as I slash with my sharp knife, fraught…

The Cameraman
By Adam Green

The police investigation had gone on for years, but without success. The notorious stalker, dubbed “The Cameraman” could simultaneously hack into every camera and microphone throughout the…

By Maxine O'Brien

She held her hands over her ears to block out the deafening shriek which reverberated around the house. What had her sister Mary done this time? She cautiously opened her bedroom door and glanced up the…

Just Not Himself
By Terri Corbett

Just Not Himself The room was in darkness apart from the flickering light that shone from the candles dotted around the room. Dangling from the high ceilings were caldrons; witches brooms, black capes,…

Shadow of my Shadow
By David Turnbull

I have become the shadow of my shadow. Wherever he walks I am cast. I noticed we had become disconnected one cold winter’s night. The snow had fallen deep. Crisp layer blanketing crisp layer. I…

By Nicola Smith

There’s nothing so terrifying as looking in the mirror and not knowing who is looking back. Which version of me will I be today? At that moment I was tabula rasa, a blank slate. Waiting each day…

And the Crane Flew
By Sarah Barnard

The storm was over but the uneasy dead calm of the lake and shadows from the full moon left no peace in my mind. The looming flat top of the dormant volcano bore down on our small boat and exuded a force…

By Amy Kann

Essentially what they had offered her was sologamy taken to its natural conclusion. The patient had been cloned, but the new brain kept vacant. Then, an extraction process had completely removed all her…

Goblin Hall
By Sylvia Telfer

Goblin Hall A Goblin Hall in a ‘Yester Castle’ was sheer temptation for two holidaying archaeology students. ‘A Sir Hugo de Gifford was ‘Wizard of Yester’, a powerful warlock…

The Collector
By Victoria MacLeod

“You’re new? Yeah, I thought so. I’ve never seen you before. How did you end up here? Not much of a talker? Don’t worry, you’ll be fine, just follow the rules, say the right…

The Price
By Linda Hardy

“He Inherited this amazing Victorian house,” Tom explained. “His wife hates it. You’ll see why. Creepsville.” We tour attics shrouded in dust, ruinous glasshouses, dank pantries.…

Departing companions
By Maud Granger

Wisps exude the extinguished cigarette laying perched, crooked, on the side of the ornate ashtray, only seconds before chucked down by Mr Heartly, making his disgust for the habit obvious as I sat down…

When she met the shadow
By Charlotte Underwood

Such innocence that child held, until that cold winters night. An odd feeling was felt from the start, her new house lacked windows containing only deepened cracks and shadows. The house would move in…

Gates of Hell
By Simone Jackson

The tale I am about to tell you is true. Now I can live the last 6 months of my life, without the threat of madness enveloping my mind. The likelihood is you have laughed in the face of madness. The classic…