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 drive
By Maddie Hourigan

Midwinter – a frozen epoch, perched between old and new. The branches? Yes, they changed season-to-season, moulting viridescent vegetation, fungi congregated around the base of discoloured creepers,…

The Unknown Self
By Patricia Reynolds

The Unknown Self Luke had always felt himself to be a twin even though his sister died when he was born. According to his mother a terrible choice had to be made whether to save him or his sister, both…

Beating Heart
By Tiffany Griffiths

She was so beautiful, laughing, with long hair shining in the street lights… And then it all came crashing down – beams, ceiling and all. Like thunder, the sound of metal on ground resounded,…

Daye and Night
By Mollie Parkin

“Mr. Daye? Mr. Daye... th-they’re waiting for you on stage-“ a small and rather timid man peeped a fraction of his head around the dressing room door, as if not intended to disturb -…

The Beast
By Solenne Levesque

Andrew was walking down the stairs with caution, tightly holding on to the handrail. The metal heels of his shoes clanked against the rusty steps. Despite the thick leather gloves he was…

The Creases in the New House
By Lucy Grace

At the top of the hour, Sarah shivered as she listened to the weather forecast. ‘North winds doth blow’. A white feather settled on the outside windowsill. “And we shall have snow,”…

The side we hide
By Natalie Sahlin

The old hospital was as old as time itself. The elevator a relic, that with great effort took him to the third floor. The plastic carpet he walked on that had seen better days. The green wallpaper that…

A gift for the future
By Hannah Bacon

Abraham had not expected a call from The Doctor that morning. He had always been diligent about his appointments, so it was with great trepidation that Abraham knocked on The Doctor’s door and entered.…

By Lee Grim

Always he is with me as I am with him. You cannot imagine the torment of being shackled to such a monster. Since the moment we were born together we have been bound; separate yet never separated. If twere…

By Charlotte Ward

I inhale deeply on the cigarette, imagining the chemicals coursing through my veins. I glance down at my watch; two more minutes. My head throbs in time with my heartbeat. I slope back to the hall, almost…

Widdowmaker and Son - We're Here To Help.
By paul richards

‘This is not unusual,” smiled Mr Widowmaker in his black tie and matching three-piece suit. His was not a jolly smile. He did not do happy, even when collecting a cheque for five thousand.…

Breaking the mirror
By Sairah Ahsan

We trust (and fear) that the government knows everything. We watch them watch us, as they erect CCTV cameras, monuments of surveillance. We didn’t hold them to care, to listen. Where scientists…

Creatures of the night
By Victoria Elliott

Marcia edged past the couple kissing passionately in the doorway between her stairwell and the street. Wrapped in leopard print and pink feather boas and each other, impossible to see where one ended…

Love in 2018
By Jennifer Kohn

The doctor tells me it is repetitive strain injury; the spasms in my thumb have been incessant since this all began. To go on with this madness I must switch hands even though I’m not ambidextrous.…

The Beast Within
By Gary Gardiner

Nellie is 8 year’s old, every one would say she was so perfect and polite and clever. And she was, but she had a dark side. She kept all the anger inside but when it gets too much  Nellie turned…

Hell is no Place for an Angel
By Susan Murphy

Hell is no Place for an Angel I woke up on what I thought was an average day, awakened by the roadworks opposite my grandparents’ house – my pride and joy, my safe place, my home! Funnily…

Asha and Grim
By Susan Murphy

Asha and Grim My heart thumps loudly in my chest. My breathing is ragged and heavy. Where am I? I can make out some shapes in the dim, flickering light. Medical equipment is scattered wildly across a…

By J Caldicott

I stare at the fingers. Bone, blood, sinew, all wrought together to form a useful appendage. That is where objectivity gets you. That is what science would call a hand. No, not wrought, that will not…

By David Salter

Cornelius As the name might suggest, Cornelius was indeed an MP of impeccable manners: an atavism in pinstripes whose star rose steadily the more he played the bespectacled Victorian pedant. He took the…

For Better Or Worse
By MadameHistoria

Dear Gabriel, By the time you read this letter I will be dead. For the last few months you and several others have asked many questions regarding my husband’s latest research and his unsavoury acquaintance.…