Podcast Episode 360: Haggard’s Dream


In 1904, adventure novelist H. Rider Haggard awoke from a dream with the conviction that his daughter’s dog was dying. He dismissed the impression as a nightmare, but the events that followed seemed to give it a grim significance. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll describe Haggard’s strange experience, which briefly made headlines around the world.

We’ll also consider Alexa’s expectations and puzzle over a college’s name change.


Marshall Bean got himself drafted by reversing his name.

An air traveler may jump into tomorrow without passing midnight.


“Bob, although he belonged to my daughter, who bought him three years ago, was a great friend of mine, but I cannot say that my soul was bound up in him,” Haggard wrote. “He was a very intelligent animal, and generally accompanied me in my walks about the farm, and almost invariably came to say good morning to me.”

Sources for our feature on Haggard’s nightmare and its sequel:

H. Rider Haggard, The Days of My Life, 1923.

Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, “Phantasms of the Living,” Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 86:33 (October 1922), 23-429.

H. Rider Haggard, Delphi Complete Works of H. Rider Haggard, 2013.

Peter Berresford Ellis, H. Rider Haggard: A Voice From the Infinite, 1978.

C.L. Graves and E.V. Lucas, “Telepathy Day by Day,” Bill Peschel, et al., The Early Punch Parodies of Sherlock Holmes, 2014.

Harold Orel, “Hardy, Kipling, and Haggard,” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 25:4 (1982), 232-248.

“Spiritualism Among Animals” Public Opinion 39:18 (Oct. 28, 1905), 566.

“Character Sketch: Commissioner H. Rider Haggard,” Review of Reviews 32:187 (July 1905), 20-27.

“Rider Haggard on Telepathy,” Muswellbrook [N.S.W.] Chronicle, Oct. 8, 1904.

“Case,” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 11:212 (October 1904), 278-290.

“Mr. Rider Haggard’s Dream,” [Rockhampton, Qld.] Morning Bulletin, Sept. 24, 1904.

“Has a Dog a Soul?” [Adelaide] Evening Journal, Sept. 21, 1904.

“Spirit of the Dog,” The World’s News [Sydney], Sept. 10, 1904.

“Thought-Telepathy: H. Rider Haggard’s Dog,” [Sydney] Daily Telegraph, Aug. 31, 1904.

“Dog’s Spirit Talks,” The World’s News [Sydney], Aug. 27, 1904.

“Telepathy (?) Between a Human Being and a Dog,” [Sydney] Daily Telegraph, Aug. 25, 1904.

“Mr. Rider Haggard’s Ghost Dog,” Kansas City Star, Aug. 22, 1904.

“The Nightmare of a Novelist,” Fresno Morning Republican, Aug. 21, 1904.

“Psychological Mystery,” Hawaiian Star, Aug. 20, 1904.

H.S., “Superstition and Psychology,” Medical Press and Circular 129:7 (Aug. 17, 1904), 183-184.

“Canine Telepathy,” [Montreal] Gazette, Aug. 10, 1904.

“Telepathy (?) Between a Human Being and a Dog,” Times, Aug. 9, 1904.

“Haggard and His Dog,” Washington Post, Aug. 7, 1904.

“Mr. Haggard’s Strange Dream,” New York Times, July 31, 1904.

“Country Notes,” Country Life 16:395 (July 30, 1904), 147-149.

“Mr. Rider Haggard’s Dream,” Light 24:1229 (July 30, 1904), 364.

“Telepathy Between Human Beings and Dogs,” English Mechanic and World of Science 79:2053 (July 29, 1904), 567.

John Senior, Spirituality in the Fiction of Henry Rider Haggard, dissertation, Rhodes University, 2003.

Wallace Bursey, Rider Haggard: A Study in Popular Fiction, dissertation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1972.

Morton N. Cohen, “Haggard, Sir (Henry) Rider,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

“How to pronounce Akira Kurosawa,” Forvo (accessed Oct. 1, 2021).

Sarah Sicard, “How the Heck Do You Pronounce ‘Norfolk’?” Military Times, July 30, 2020.

William S. Forrest, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Norfolk and Vicinity, 1853.

“Dubois, Wyoming,” Wikipedia (accessed Oct. 1, 2021).

“Our History,” Destination Dubois (accessed Oct. 2, 2021).

This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Tony Filanowski. Here’s a corroborating link (warning — this spoils the puzzle).

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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!