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A series of visions (examples c. 1942/8/4, 1954/1/1, and 1958/8/16) by Anonymous # 25, as reported by JB Priestley


In 1963, writer J.B. Priestley put out a request on a BBC show for examples of strange experiences with time, whether waking or dreaming. Over a thousand responses came: predictive dreams and visions of varying clarity, accuracy and credibility. The following year he published many examples (though withholding most dreamers' names for privacy reasons) in his book Man and Time. Here's one of the thousand; an unusual one, in that he knew the man. Or did he? It turns out there's a side of him no one knew.

--Chris Wayan


A neighbor and friend--a university extramural lecturer and also an excellent dramatic critic--came around two or three weeks after I had sorted out most of my letters, with what he called some "quick jottings." They tell a story similar to scores I have relegated to the C pile as being unacceptable; the difference in this case is that I happen to be well acquainted with the writer, whom I know to be both intelligent and scrupulously truthful.

After remarking that these experiences "are disturbing enough to have made me hide them away from myself and others for a very long time," he goes on:

Since the age of five I have had intermittently very quick previsions of happening which have subsequently occurred. The odd thing about them is that they have always been accompanied by the picture of the name of the person mainly concerned in the event. For example:

Three weeks before the death in an air-crash of the Duke of Kent during the war, I was playing some ball game in the garden of our house in Wales when I had a sudden vision of an aeroplane at its moment of impact with the ground. Just above the "picture" was written as a kind of headline the words "The Duke of Kent." [The Duke died August 25, 1942]

About a fortnight before his death in a Comet aircrash I had a "picture" of an aircraft exploding in the air with the words "Chester Wilmott" written as in a headline above the picture. I expect you'll remember him as a well-known war-correspondent. [Wilmott died January 10, 1954]

About two days before his death in a car-crash I saw the name of the film-star Bonar Colleano written above the "picture" of a very violent smash-up. [Colleano died August 18, 1958]

These are three examples out of about ten in all which I recall. They are all, incidentally, of violent death, and always the name of the person involved appears as a kind of headline. The only person I have ever related these occurrences to is Barbara [his wife], and she can confirm some of them. There is no preliminary to having the "picture," each one had occurred during the day, and as I recall, each one has occurred when I was out of doors. The first two or three I took no notice of at the time of having them, but I remember vividly being brought to consciousness of them as a result of feeling no surprise when the "real" event actually happened. In short, I already knew, and when the news was announced it was as if it was "cold" news....

These notes invite several comments. First, we must not be surprised because these "very quick previsions" took the form they did. As Dunne indicated [J.W. Dunne, An Experiment With Time], newspaper front pages can be part of the future too, and they may be what we sometimes see, not the events they describe. Next, even allowing for the prejudice I have not tried to hide, it seems more reasonable to believe my friend than to reject his "previsions." He would not want to deceive me. Nor can I see that he would want to deceive himself. He holds no set of beliefs that would make him wish for the miraculous; he is not proud of having these experiences, which tend to embarrass him; he was not emotionally involved with the Duke of Kent, Chester Wilmott, or Bonar Colleano; he made no attempt to peer into the future, gazed into no crystal balls or pools of ink, received these flashes almost as impersonally as an instrument might do.

I cannot see that telepathy can explain them; nor can coincidence, unless we are ready to believe that he really had thousands of flashes of this sort, and forgot them all except the few that came true. And I am not ready to believe this because it would mean that he was either idiotic or dishonest.

--J.B. Priestley

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