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

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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My Own Dark Way
By M T McManus

Eris clambered up the rocks to the top of the moorland she had not seen in twenty years or more. The clouds were blackening around her and a few grouse fluttered away uttering their melancholy, staccato…

The way of the woods
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I am standing in the wood. The trees look the same to me; they have bent to mutter soundlessly; their limbs are worn smooth by resting travellers. Like before, I am unsure. The two paths stretch wide…

It Grows
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It had been a week since it started and yet nothing was better, the mark remained on my chest and I felt it in my mind and body; always watching, always controlling, never leaving. I had already accepted…

The Technology Trap
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“What on earth do you mean?” My Mother looked horrified, her mouth hanging open like a slack wound. “She’s disappeared.” Aunt Isobel looked flustered and wrung her hands…

At the Heart of the Onion
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‘There have been deaths, Professor.’ ‘Indeed there have, Inspector.’ ‘Both murders and suicides.’ ‘And sometimes a confusion as to which was which, I understand.’…

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A TO Z AND BACK AGAIN The silent gasps from Adam’s twin brother’s lips dripped to the cold, bedroom floor like blood-red rose petals delicately floating from their stem to their delayable,…

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He sat close to the hearth fire, like he had done countless times before. Hunched over in his decrepit chair, he had moved closer to the flame over time, seeking warmth, in the way that a gnarled and…

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Open my eyes opened, refusing to be shut again after the eons of trepidation I experienced within a few milliseconds. The symptoms of the devil, which barricades my sleep, were knocking on my brain. My…

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“Would you please tell me what was happening at the scene of the crime?” asked the officer, in a very firm voice, showing signs of sympathy. “I -I was tied to the wall sir! I ha-have…

The Change
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It was a dark, emotionless day where everything seemed to be dead. Trees stood silent and dark, cloaked in mist like shadows of the unawaken. The fog crept up on the house like a ghostly serpent, sliding…

By Li-Man Ngo

I can’t remember the last time I felt sane, I really can’t. Maybe it’s the heart rate monitor, persistently beeping away on the left of me, like a doomsday clock. Maybe it’s the…

Don't Blink
By Nayan Nepaul

Don't Blink The house seemed unblemished. There it stood staring at all the other disfigured houses indicating to them that it was the most stunning. It shone like a scintillating creature luring…

By oliver read

The night grew dark, the clouds gathered above the windowless, run-down building. Ivy climbing the walls racing to the top. The thick fog accumulated on the long driveway. Brown crumpled leaves calmly…

By Alex Sebastos

BILLY The sky was dark, darker than usual, darker than had ever seen before. Not even the rays of moon light could help lighten the obfuscous scene. Thick rivers of sweat streamed down the boy’s…

The Figure in the Night
By Bisesh Sitaula

The Figure in the Night The group of children huddled together, shivering as they gazed out past the rusty window. The barren wasteland, normally tranquil aside from the occasional tumbleweed being pushed…

By Harry Antill

Fog lay thick upon the silent road, the tall stone buildings narrowing down upon the darkness below. A silhouette lingered at the outside corner of a building. From across the street approached an elderly…

Concealed Character
By Calvin Tran

This tale went on about a narcissistic girl, obsessed with her comeliness. Her flaxen hair evoked the shade of a sunbeam passed through a window. Her prepossessing face demanded full attention at all…

The room
By Tito Babayemi

The room was desolate, motionless and quite trivial. No form of life was felt or present. It was a plain pale blue room with only a window to the left of the hospital bed, which was in the centre of the…

By Tobi Owolabi

Rise Darkness, that’s what we called it. Striking fear into our hearts as people walked along the over stretched pavement. It was a punishment from God they said. The Howling wind that rustled the…