Do you dream of oxtail soup? Apparently this is a sign that some of your friends or relatives are about to fall ill with a complaint that will reduce them from their present corpulency to leanness.
Judging by number of works on dream interpretation, from penny pamphlets to serious academic works, the Edwardians were fascinated by the subject. In the last six months the Tower Project team have catalogued about a dozen popular works on the interpretation of dreams, all published between 1901 and 1906. They give us an insight into the sort of things our ancestors dreamt about, and some of the superstitions of the time. Food is a recurring theme. Pearson’s dream book (1902) gives a long list of fruit including bananas (favourable), blackberries (success), figs (prosperity and happiness), oranges (a very bad omen) and peaches (very favourable in all ways).
One particular pamphlet The penny dream book (1903) caused a great deal of amusement in the Project Office, and we feel that some of the subjects deserve a wider audience.
Beer: To dream of beer portends accidents.
Beetroot: For a man to dream that he is eating beetroot means disgrace; for a married woman, trouble; for a maid, she will lose her lover.
Camel : To dream of a camel denotes a lazy but a wealthy husband.
Earthworms: To dream of earthworms is a sign that you have secret enemies.
Kissing: To dream that your lover is kissing you is a sign of deceit. To see him kiss another is an excellent omen.
Microscope : If you dream that you are looking through a microscope it means that your lover is going to remove to a distant land, but that after a time he will return and marry you.
Opossum : This dream means that your mate will be somewhat critical, but possessed of good business ability.
Peas: To dream of peas is a sign of much gold.
Sausages: If a girl dreams that she is eating this article of diet, it means that she will be sure to meet a shiftless and seedy lover, and that she may marry him.
Spider: All dreams of spiders bring luck – the more if they are crawling over you.
Spoons: To dream of spoons is a warning to beware of flattery.
Xylophone: To dream of this instrument denotes coming sorrow.
Right, I’m off to start the oxtail soup weight loss plan …