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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Allaenia's Encounter
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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
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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…

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Peter ran and ran. Away from bullets, away from bombs, away from whistles and shrieks and cries. Away from trenches that were not fit for man or beast. He ran. His heart beat quickly, his lungs stretched…

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The girl woke up and, as usual, she had no idea what she had done. Blinking in the bright artificial light, she felt out her surroundings like a blind man, grouping around trying in vain to uncover where…

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“There’s no such thing as monsters” I remember Mother soothing me with these words whenever I had my frequent nightmares. I remember sitting by the open fireplace, flames bursting out…

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It was 10pm on Christmas eve. I was expecting my manager's call to discuss our company's Christmas party arrangements. Slouched and fatigued in my chair, I heard the ticking of the clock which…

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The Prior Bleep… Bleep… Bleep… Flat line occurring allowing the prayer of druids. Darkness prevails conquering time and space creating a cloud of smoke and mist upon the top stage.…

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The first thing you must know about my brothers and I is that our parents were the true monsters, not us. They worshipped the god of science, and believed it had entrusted them with the mission of creating…

By Paula Clifford

We had barely taken off from Johannesburg when our ten-seater plane began to shake. Almost at once we were being buffeted about. We began to fall. My hands gripped my seat with a strength I didn’t…

Bones- a modern tale.
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Greasy strands of hair fall in my eyes as I stare into the mirror. My eyes, a dull lifeless blue, are outlined by black shadows smudged beneath them. I stand before my reflection, cheek bones hollow,…

By mia 💫

She crept through the woods, branches cracking underfoot like bones. Silence clung to the air, a wraith of dread, broken only by the coo of a wood pigeon. Night was falling, and she knew she had to reach…