Short Stories with Doppelgangers, Duality, Alter-Egos or Split Personalities

A character in some of these selections encounters their double or twin, usually in appearance and sometimes in behavior. They’re stories of doppelgangers, mirror images, “The Other”, or doubles.

Or the duality might be present in a single person as an alter-ego, a split personality, someone with dual forms, or a character who lives a double life.

See also:

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar

The narrator hates stories about selkies, mythological shape-shifters. Her mother left the family. The narrator works as a waitress at Le Pacha to help pay the bills at home. Her first night was difficult. She left her keys inside after it closed. The only other waitress, Mona, helped her get back in. They also took some wine. Mona cries a lot and is afraid her mother will take her to Egypt.

This story can be read in the collection Tender: Stories(13% into preview)

William Wilson | Edgar Allan Poe

William Wilson relates how he suddenly turned evil. He describes the large house where he went to school, and its strict principal, a pastor. There is another student just like William – he has the same name, build, and style of clothing.

Read “William Wilson”

The Secret Sharer | Joseph Conrad

The new captain of a ship is taking the night watch when he sees a man swimming to the side of the ship. The man comes aboard. The captain learns the man was under arrest on his own ship and escaped. The captain has to decide what to do with him.

The Red-Headed League | Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is visited by Mr. Jabez Wilson, a man with striking red hair. Wilson had responded to an ad in the paper from the Red-Headed League. He was hired to copy from the encyclopedia for four hours a day. One day he showed up for work but the League was gone without explanation.

Read “The Red-Headed League”

Markheim | Robert Louis Stevenson

Markheim goes to a shop under the guise of looking for a present for someone. He really has murder on his mind, so he can then steal the dealer’s money and goods.

Read “Markheim”

The Other | Jorge Luis Borges

Borges recounts a meeting he had about three years prior. A man sat next to him on a bench. He believed it to be a younger version of himself. He tried to convince the other man of this.

South of the Slot | Jack London

Freddie Drummond is a professor of Sociology and completely orthodox in his views. He makes visits to the working-class part of town, South of the Slot, as research for his books. In this role he is “Big” Bill Tots. He begins to enjoy these trips more and more. Eventually, Freddie/Bill is a success in both worlds.

Read “South of the Slot”

Miriam | Truman Capote

Mrs. Miller is an elderly widow living by herself in New York. She stays close to home and keeps a consistent routine. While standing in line for a movie one night, she meets a young girl, Miriam, which is also Mrs. Miller’s name. They have a conversation and part ways. A week later, Miriam shows up unannounced at Mrs. Miller’s home.

Read “Miriam”

Counterfeit Bills | Richard Matheson

William Cook decides it would be nice to be two people—he could enjoy himself while his double carried out the obligatory chores of life. He devotes his time and resources to building a duplication machine. One Sunday afternoon, he tries it for the first time.

Read “Counterfeit Bills”

Adam and Eve and Pinch Me | A. E. Coppard

Jaffa is out walking and arrives at his garden, where there are three children playing. In his house, he finds his wife kissing a man. Feeling disembodied, he tries to get the attention of the maid and gardener, without success.