The Dreamer’s Sure Guide

The Dreamer’s Sure Guide: Or Dreams Clearly Explained: By Which Means Future Events Are Foretold With Great Certainty and Precision

Author: Unknown
Publisher: R. and T. Hughes
Publication Year: 1808
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.75 cm x 18.5 cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.D743 1808

Material History

The full and exact title of this chapbook is The Dreamer’s Sure Guide Or Dreams Clearly Explained By Which Means Future Events Are Foretold With Great Certainty and Precision. This title is listed on the title page, as well as the partial title The Dreamer’s Sure Guide Or Dreams Clearly Explained appearing on the first page of the book. There is no author listed anywhere in the book; however, the printer is listed as J. D. Dewick and the publishers are listed as R. and T. Hughes. These names appear at the bottom of the title page, along with the date and location of publishing: London, 1808.

The width of the book is 10.75cm and the length is 18.5cm, with a total page count of thirty-eight pages. Overall, the book appears very worn, used, torn, and stained. The small pages are thin and yellow with many different brown and black stains covering the pages. The light black stains on several pages resemble faded ink, but they are not present in any discernible pattern or form of writing. Interestingly, the only form of deliberate markings or writing throughout the book are numbers listed on the bottom of several pages, which are a relic of the method of page folding and book binding used during the early nineteenth century. In this method, eight pages were printed on a single sheet of paper, folded into halves, then quarters, then eighths, with the numbers on the bottoms of the pages guiding how the pages should be folded. Another sign of damage of the book are the jagged edges present on every single page. The damage along the edges varies from slight wrinkles to complete tears and missing paper along the sides, tops, and bottoms of the pages, but very little in the centers. The interior pages have small margins (approximately .5 inches) with very small amounts of empty space around the text. The text is in a small standard font, printed in a closely set manner.

The book has an extremely simplistic and dull presentation as there are no images, illustrations, captions, or artwork present in the body of the book, which is odd, given the vivid detail of the descriptions of imagery in dreams throughout the text. The only artwork in the book is on the title page, where there is a Celtic knot-like decoration above and below the title. The front cover of the book is completely missing, with the title page being exposed at the front. Similarly, the back cover is missing, with page 38 exposed at the back. The binding of the pages is in poor condition as well, with only fragments of the original binding remaining and no visible decorations nor colors. These fragments very closely resemble cardboard, suggesting a paper binding. It is also important to note that chapbooks during this period were often parts of a set with other chapbooks, all within the same binding, and it is possible this one was removed from such a volume, which would explain the lack of covers and the state of the paper binding.

Textual History

The Dreamer’s Sure Guide, Or Dreams Clearly Explained, was originally published in London in 1808 by R. and T. Hughes and printed by J. D. Dewick. The chapbook has no known author.

There are no digital copies of the book available on sites such as Google Books and HathiTrust. Only two libraries in the world have a copy of The Dreamer’s Sure Guide: University of Virginia Special Collections, in the Sadlier-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction, and the Eastern Shore Public Library in eastern Virginia, where the book is not listed in the public directory.

The only direct reference available online to The Dreamer’s Sure Guide is in Diane Long Hoeveler’s 2014 study, The Gothic Ideology: Religious Hysteria and Anti-Catholicism in British Popular Fiction, 1780–1880. Hoeveler mentions The Dreamer’s Sure Guide while discussing the depiction of “prescient dreams featuring Catholic clergy” and states that “stories like this, featuring warnings from dead clergy, were frequently distilled in chapbooks such as The dreamer’s sure guide; Or dreams clearly explained (1808), extremely popular, widely available and certainly indicative of how extensive was the belief that the dispossessed Catholic clergy were unquiet ghosts haunting the conscience of the British Protestant imaginary” (Hoeveler 223). Hoeveler’s description of The Dreamer’s Sure Guide as “extremely popular” is interesting, given the lack of digital and physical copies available today, as well as the lack of direct mention in periodicals and advertisements in the nineteenth century.

A very similar but not identical text was published over two decades after The Dreamer’s Sure Guide, Or Dreams Clearly Explained appeared. In 1830, The Dreamer’s Sure Guide; Or, The Interpretations of Dreams Faithfully Revealed, was published anonymously in London by Orlando Hodgson; there is a digital version available via Google Books. This version of The Dreamer’s Sure Guide; Or, The Interpretations of Dreams Faithfully Revealed has the exact same format as The Dreamer’s Sure Guide, Or Dreams Clearly Explained and has many of the same fortunes listed with the exact same wording. For example, the fortune for seeing a boar in a dream in The Interpretations of Dreams Faithfully Revealed is “To dream of a boar, denotes to the lover that some rival will attack your sweetheart, and you will be in great danger of losing the object of your affection…” (6), which is the exact same wording as the boar fortune in Dreams Clearly Explained. However there are differences between the two texts beyond their subtitles: the 1830 book has fewer pages overall yet includes images depicting some of the dreams; there are also some new fortunes added and others removed. Additionally, the 1830 text ends with a section titled “Singular Instances of Good and Ill Fortune on Particular Days,” which lists examples of people who have apparently experienced some of the fortunes described in the book (23). It is possible that the 1830 edition is another edition of the Dreams Clearly Explained chapbook; however, this book was published twenty-two years later with a different subtitle and by a different publisher, suggesting that it is most likely plagiarism, although there is no definitive proof.

Some sources mention a “dreamer’s sure guide”; however, it is not always possible to determine whether these sources are referencing the 1808 Dreamer’s Sure Guide, Or Dreams Clearly Explained, the 1830 Dreamer’s Sure Guide; Or, The Interpretations of Dreams Faithfully Revealed, or other books that have the phrase “dreamer’s sure guide” in the title. For instance, in The Art Collections of the Late Viscount Leverhulme, a sales catalog for an auction, a book is listed as “The Dreamer’s Sure Guide” in the same group as other books which are stated to be “embellished with a colored folding frontispiece,” suggesting that the chapbook was collected with volumes of other chapbooks (16). It is unclear which version of The Dreamer’s Sure Guide was for sale. Additionally, an advertisement in the novel The Light of Asia lists “The Dreamer’s Sure Guide” under the category of “Fortune-Telling Made Easy” and states “this book will tell you about your destiny, your prospective marriage, your business prospects, your we-affairs. The book is a perfect oracle of fate” (Arnold 137). It is similarly unclear to which version of The Dreamer’s Sure Guide they are referring. In a more recent case where the attribution is clear, Nicola Bown briefly analyzes the frontispiece of the 1830 Dreamer’s Sure Guide; Or, The Interpretations of Dreams Faithfully Revealed in a study on the Victorian supernatural  (157).

Narrative Point of View

The Dreamer’s Sure Guide is narrated by an anonymous narrator in both the second person and the third person. While describing the context of the dreams as well as the fortunes associated with them, the narrator directly addresses the reader as “you,” the one having the dreams. The narrator never expresses the feelings of the reader, but rather what will happen to the reader, given that the subject they are reading about appeared in one of their dreams. Additionally, the narrator uses the third person while describing what will happen to other people in the reader’s life and how that affects the fortune of the reader. This third person language also avoids assuming the particular conditions of the person having the dream, such as the gender of the reader.

Sample Passage:

Anchor—To dream of this emblem of hope, denotes some good to the dreamer; it forebodes many unexpected successes. If you are in love, it warns you to be assiduous and attentive to obtain the object of your wishes, otherwise your passion will not meet with success- if you are in trade, then it fordoes success at a distant period, after you had nearly given expectation of doing well, expected shortly to see some friend, who has been at sea, and that he has escaped some perilous situation-it forebodes that lawsuits will attend you, in which you will not gain much, although you will not be much injured by them-beware of some friend who pretends you more than ordinary attachment, he will deceive you, and endeavour, though vainly, to harm you; you will have many children, chiefly girls, and the third born will be the best off in this world. (The Dreamer’s Sure Guide, Or Dreams Clearly Explained 8)

As this book is a guide for dreams, the second-person point of view makes sense for effectively personalizing the fortune for whoever may be reading it. By addressing the reader as “you” repeatedly, the guide emphasizes that each individual reader is subject to the fortunes that the guide foretells. By also referring to more people besides the reader within the fortunes, the guide also expands the scope of the dream beyond the successes and failures of a single person and to a more profound and complex network.


The Dreamer’s Sure Guide Or Dreams Clearly Explained does not have a plot, as there are no characters nor a central storyline. This book is a fortune telling guide for analyzing dreams and their meanings. The guide is divided according to the contents of dreams. As such, if a person, animal, or object appears in a reader’s dream and is listed in the guide, then the reader can access the guide’s insights on what this dream means for the reader’s future. The subjects are listed alphabetically, starting with “Adam.” The fortunes are either great successes or great failures in varying facets of life: career, marriage, romance, wealth and finance, and life and death. Furthermore, the fortunes are context dependent. For example, if a hen appears in a dream, it is considered a dire omen and indicates infidelity of a spouse as well as financial ruin in the future; but if the hen or hens are clucking, then that is a sign of success with a romantic interest and a fortunate career in the future.


Arnold, Edwin. “The Light of Asia.” Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1884, pp. 137.

The Art Collections of the Late Viscount Leverhulme, part four. New York: The Anderson Galleries, 1926.

Bown, Nicola. “What is the Stuff Dreams are Made of?” The Victorian Supernatural, edited by Nicola Bown, Carolyn Burdett, and Pamela Thurschwell. Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 151–72.

Hoeveler, Diane Long. The Gothic Ideology: Religious Hysteria and Anti-Catholicism in British Popular Fiction, 1780–1880. University of Wales Press, 2014.

The Dreamer’s Sure Guide, Or Dreams Clearly Explained. By which means future events are foretold with great certainty and precision. T and R Hughes, 1808.

The Dreamer’s Sure Guide; Or, the Interpretation of Dreams Faithfully Revealed. Orlando Hodgson, 1830.

Researcher: Josh Tipps

How to cite this page:

MLA: “TheDreamer’s Sure Guide.” Project Gothic, University of Virginia, 2024,