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Humpbacked Coat-Thief

Dreamed ca. 1919 by Anonymous #15 as reported 1964 by J.B. 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. This is one of the thousand. It's notable that the dreamer took action based on the dream and recovered the stolen coat. At Priestley points out elsewhere, this implies that the future must be both fixed (to some extent) AND mutable (to some extent). We live daily as if this is so, but it's not so easy to describe convincingly in theory.

--Chris Wayan


When I was 11 years old, then living in my native Czechoslovachia, I had a dream in which I saw a beggar in our house who had been stealing. It was a very small man with a hump. Some time after this dream (I think it was a few weeks later but I am not quite sure of the time) when I was coming home from school one afternoon, I saw that same man whom I had never seen before in reality, leaving our house hastily, carrying something under his arm. I was struck by the look of this man and remembered at once having seen him in my dream. After having asked my mother very quickly whether something might have been stolen by a beggar during the last few seconds, she discovered that my elder brother's coat was missing from its hanger. I ran after the little man and with the help of other boys in the village where I lived, we chased him and he dropped the jacket before reaching the woods... This happening made a great impression upon me even as a boy. When I told others about it, they could not understand and I therefore did not mention it again. But it is still very clear in my memory and I can remember the man exactly, the look of his face, little black moustache, black hair, rather large hat, and all the details as if it had happened yesterday ... and yet this was 44 years ago.

--Anonymous #15

It is like a tale from 444 years ago--the humpbacked beggar hurrying away, the village boys chasing him, the flight into the woods. However, it is a good instance of action taken in real life because of something revealed earlier in a dream.


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