dreamsMost of our dreams seem like a load of gobbledygook. But I never cease to be amazed at my imagination when I’m asleep! And I’m not the only one. Some famous people have invented things while they’ve been asleep.

Paul McCartney is one of the most famous singer/ songwriters of all time. According to the Guinness Book of Records, his Beatles song “Yesterday” (1965) has the most cover versions of any song ever written and, according to record label BMI, was performed over seven million times in the 20th century. The tune for “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream…

The Beatles were in London in 1965 filming Help! and McCartney was staying in a small attic room of his family’s house on Wimpole Street. One morning, in a dream he heard a classical string ensemble playing, and, as McCartney tells it:

“I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, ‘That’s great, I wonder what that is?’ There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th — and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically. I liked the melody a lot, but because I’d dreamed it, I couldn’t believe I’d written it. I thought, ‘No, I’ve never written anything like this before.’ But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!

In the Summer of 1816, nineteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover, the poet Percy Shelley (whom she married later that year), visited the poet Lord Byron at his villa beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Stormy weather frequently forced them indoors, where they and Byron’s other guests sometimes read from a volume of ghost stories. One evening, Byron challenged his guests to each write one themselves. Mary’s story, inspired by a dream, became Frankenstein.

“When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think… I saw — with shut eyes, but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.
…I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around. …I could not so easily get rid of my hideous phantom; still it haunted me. I must try to think of something else. I recurred to my ghost story — my tiresome, unlucky ghost story! O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night!
Swift as light and as cheering was the idea that broke upon me. ‘I have found it! What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted me my midnight pillow.’ On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the words, ‘It was on a dreary night of November’, making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream.” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, from her introduction to Frankenstein


The majority of this article has been obtained from Work in Bristol 1883. A series of sketches of the Chief Manufactories in the City Reprinted from “Bristol Times & Mirror”. I have quoted this since it provides an actual account of the process of lead shot manufacture as actually witnessed in 1883.

Directly opposite St Mary Redcliffe Church, in the year 1782, lived Mr William Watts, a plumber by trade and according to legend he had a dream that enabled him to make his fortune. There are several versions of this dream but two are quoted below.

He dreamed that during a walk in the neighbourhood of Hotwells he was overtaken in a heavy shower, but that instead of drops of water falling from the clouds, there came down drops of molten lead, which to his intense surprise fell in a perfectly globular form. The idea, it is said, haunted him day after day, until at last he made up his mind to test quietly the value of the dreamy picture by pouring molten lead from the top of the tower of St. Mary Redcliffe Church into some water beneath. The experiment proved a great success, and was the cause of the erection of the shot tower at the top of Redcliffe Hill immediately in front of the church, where the discovery is said to have been made, or rather tested. Some other historians, however, accord to Mrs. Watts the credit of the nocturnal inspiration, which raised her from the position of a humble plumber’s wife to that of one of the richest matrons in the then sparsely populated district of Clifton. In her dream it is recorded that she saw some molten lead fall from the top landing of a spiral staircase into a vessel of water beneath, and she had the sagacity to notice that it assumed a perfectly spherical shape. Of course, upon awakening she immediately shook her lord and master and informed him of her dream. He accepted the “tip” only with a few growls, some little chaff as to the folly of talking about dreams, and soon relapsed into another snore. Mrs. Watts also fell asleep, and again she dreamt the same dream. Once more she awoke her husband, who this time became thoroughly irritable, so much so that he could not help expressing his feelings in somewhat strong Saxon. But still once more Mrs Watts’ mind was haunted by the same vision, and when at the breakfast-table next morning she told her spouse about this “third time of asking”, he began to think there might be something in it. He made experiments which, as before stated, were highly successful; and, as the late Mr. J. Ix says in his local legends, which first appeared in the Bristol Mirror –

Mr. Watts very soon a patent got,

So that only himself could make Patent Shot,

And King George and his son declared they’d not

Shoot with anything else – and they ordered a lot.

The Regent swore that the smallest spot

In a bird’s eye he’d surely dot :

And every sportsman, both sober and sot,

From the peer in his hall to the hind in his cot,

Vowed that they cared not a single jot,

When the game was strong and the chase was hot,

For anything else than the Patent Shot.

Kekulé – Dreams of Molecules & Benzene Structure

Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz is a remarkable figure in the history of chemistry, specifically organic chemistry.

Twice Kekulé had dreams that led to major discoveries!

Kekulé discovered the tetravalent nature of carbon, the formation of chemical/ organic “Structure Theory”, but he did not make this breakthrough by experimentation alone. He had a dream! As he described in a speech given at the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft (German Chemical Society):





Kekulé in stamp form, celebrating his discovery of the Benzene structure… attributed to a dream!

“I fell into a reverie, and lo, the atoms were gamboling before my eyes! Whenever, hitherto, these diminutive beings had appeared to me, they had always been in motion; but up to that time, I had never been able to discern the nature of their motion. Now, however, I saw how, frequently, two smaller atoms united to form a pair; how a larger one embraced the two smaller ones; how still larger ones kept hold of three or even four of the smaller; whilst the whole kept whirling in a giddy dance. I saw how the larger ones formed a chain, dragging the smaller ones after them, but only at the ends of the chain. . . The cry of the conductor: “Clapham Road,” awakened me from my dreaming; but I spent part of the night in putting on paper at least sketches of these dream forms. This was the origin of the Structural Theory.”

Later, he had a dream that helped him discover that the Benzene molecule, unlike other known organic compounds, had a circular structure rather than a linear one… solving a problem that had been confounding chemists:

“…I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis.”

The snake seizing it’s own tail gave Kekulé the circular structure idea he needed to solve the Benzene problem!

Said an excited Kekulé to his colleagues, “Let us learn to dream!”

Source: From Serendipity, Accidental Discoveries in Science , by R.M. Roberts, as used by http://www.woodrow.org/teachers/chemistry/institutes/1992/Kekule.html

The Sewing Machine

Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1845. He had the idea of a machine with a needle which would go through a piece of cloth but he couldn’t figure out exactly how it would work. He first tried using a needle that was pointed at both ends, with an eye in the middle, but it was a failure. Then one night he dreamt he was taken prisoner by a group of natives. They were dancing around him with spears. As he saw them move around him, he noticed that their spears all had holes near their tips.

When he woke up he realized that the dream had brought the solution to his problem. By locating a hole at the tip of the needle, the thread could be caught after it went through cloth thus making his machine operable.

He changed his design to incorporate the dream idea and found it worked!

Source: A Popular History of American Invention . (Waldemar Kaempffert, ed.) Vol II, New York Scribner’s Sons, 1924


Jack Nicklaus Finds a New Golf Swing in a Dream

Golfer Jack Nicklaus found a new way to hold his golf club in a dream, which he credits to improving his golf game. In 1964, Nicklaus was having a bad slump and routinely shooting in the high seventies. After suddenly regaining top scores he reported:


“Wednesday night I had a dream and it was about my golf swing. I was hitting them pretty good in the dream and all at once I realized I wasn’t holding the club the way I’ve actually been holding it lately. I’ve been having trouble collapsing my right arm taking the club head away from the ball, but I was doing it perfectly in my sleep. So when I came to the course yesterday morning I tried it the way I did in my dream and it worked. I shot a sixty-eight yesterday and a sixty-five today.” Sources: Jack Nicklaus, as told to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, 27 June 1964 The Committee

Anyway, back to me now!

As you know, Dear Readers, I love crafts.

I’ve been working on a new craft, covering mirror frames with denim.

After planning it for several days, I started cutting out a pair of stretchy jeans and sticking them around the frame.

It worked perfectly, apart from the finishing off. You could see the cut ends reflected in the mirror.

I knew that I needed to stick some sort of border around the mirror’s edge, but I couldn’t think what to use.

And guess what? All night (or it seemed like that) I was watching a man twisting strips of denim. He was doing it as though he was demonstrating it to me.

When I woke up, I suddenly realised, Eureka! That’s the perfect solution to my mirror neatening problem.

I rushed up the garden to my craft room and tried twisting some denim strips. And guess what? It worked absolutely perfectly!

Now I’m waiting to dream about the winning lottery numbers. I’m sure it’s possible!

What’s the time? Is it my bedtime yet.