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 Metropolotian University, founding member of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Met. Co-organising International Gothic Association 2018.

Get Involved

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


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The Grim Reaper
By Cerise Buckle

It was the first day Death was staying with Sofia. After the ‘unsuccessful attempt’ of collecting her soul, he gained the alias John Smith and was now living under her roof. Yes, it was unprofessional…

My Vampire Crush
By Alice Wilmot

When I watch him play, his body entails into the instrument. Everything syncs together like the notes which play through the strings. His hair droops down to one side and his forehead creases each time…

The Chill
By Summer Wyatt

You find you see him more and more as the days go on; his emotionless, cold eyes watching your every move. Never fully, and never for long but you know he’s there, silently waiting. You were visiting…

December 1924 - Cotton Club
By Erika Blazevic

Star Tavern was full of drunks and dancers in the early morn, ragtime echoing on the phonograph. Bodies being swung around in a chaotic fashion, Battenberg flapper dresses cutting the air as they twist…

Devil's Price
By Aaliyah Martin-Clarke

I'm back to where I started. I really didn't want to come back, but it was inevitable. I remembered everything that went on in that spooky house. The doors made the same noise as irritated mice.…

Somewhere Just Off the Map
By Madeleine McDonald

“What are you playing at?” Rachel dropped her case on the bed and rounded on Tom. “Your Christmas invite was not because I’m Australian and on my own, right?” He looked hurt.…

The Werewolf.
By Poppy Crossland

A hazy mist blanketed the moors. I was sure I had seen this place before. The crooked tree’s claw, poised to strike, the black church’s winding spire- a witch’s finger- pointing into…

De Profundis
By Kathleen Dillon

My cell is spartan, impersonal, free from ornament. I am in bed but awake. At home, my surrender to sleep is immediate, brought on by evenings of over-indulgence. But here, tonight, I am hungry, sober…

The Disobedient Mirror
By Tamsyn Christie

Emily’s reflection isn’t always Emily. When she was younger she thought it was normal. The Other made faces and she laughed, not understanding that reflections should be like shadows. They…

A Cough is a Threat
By Claire Gee

In the unlit room someone coughed. “Whose there?” the girl asked, sounding calm despite the tsunami of terror overtaking her. Silence answered, icy and mocking. She wanted to leave- to get…

A Ghost Story
By Chris Bradshaw

She walked the 199 steps that led up to The Abby as a soft rain fell around her, her umbrella too small. She too small. The world too big. The day was grey and her attire was woefully wanting for…

Sweet Ivory
By Gina Nkwah

It was midnight and the town of Oxford was asleep. However, Ivory had just gone through the woods near her house, picking up any objects which represented a negative emotion inside her. After thoroughly…

Away from it all
By janet lister

In the end I went to the doc and he signed me off for a week with some sleeping pills. My head was always full of worries - work, health, money, Alzheimer’s, and now climate change was top of the…

Back Bacon
By Jacob Dowling

Rolling small thunder - hoofs; hoofs and dogs and mannish howls. Someone is running. Through branches broken and earth sodden; eyes scared wide. A ravine, edge shrouded in the dark; almost falling. Howls…

My Life in Sir Lanka
By piranavie thangasuthan

Dear diary, First of all, please accept my most heartfelt apologies my dear diary for not writing this sooner. In 30th March 2010, it hadn’t been a good start to the day, because of the suffering…

Falsity, or The Locked Door
By Theodore Jesson

What is reality? What is falsity? All those images you see, all those scents and feelings and experiences you have. And then you wake up, and they’re gone, just like that. Ohgodwhereamiwhatisthiswhoareyouwhoamiwhyisthishappeningtomeineverdid-…

By Lizzie Russell

After so many lies, Dan Harper could almost forget who he really was. But then his mum would jolt him back to reality. “Do you want any tea Daniel?” she called up to him. “No, I’m…

Allaenia's Encounter
By Llukwell Dert-Ethrae

The street lay dark, save for the few lamps that fizzled in and out. Traffic buzzed in the distance and the hacking of a flu infected bum cracked harshly in the slum of a neighbourhood. Passing vagrants…

Allaenia's Encounter
By Llukwell Dert-Ethrae

The street lay dark, save for the few lamps that fizzled in and out. Traffic buzzed in the distance and the hacking of a flu infected bum cracked harshly in the slum of a neighbourhood. Passing vagrants…

In My Head
By Sarah Gate

The first time I realised that there was someone else in my head I was fifteen years old. It was around five years before I stabbed my brother. There was this moment when I was twelve where I felt like…