Queen Mab is a fairy referred to in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. She later appears in other poetry and literature, and in various guises in drama and cinema. In the play her activity is described in a famous speech by Mercutio written originally in prose and often adapted into iambic pentameter, in which she is described as a miniature creature who drives her chariot into the noses and into the brains of sleeping people to compel them to experience dreams of wish-fulfillment. She would also "plague" "ladies' lips" "with blisters", which is thought a reference to the plague or to herpes simplex. She is also described as a midwife to help sleepers 'give birth' to their dreams. She may be a figure borrowed from folklore, and though she is often associated with the Irish Medb in popular culture and has been suggested by historian Thomas Keightley to be from Habundia, a more likely origin for her name would be from Mabel and the Middle English derivative "Mabily" (as used by Chaucer) all from the Latin "amabilis".
Mercutio's speech (in the adapted prose version) 
"O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lies asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's wat'ry beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone; the lash of film;
Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
Tickling a parson's nose as a’ lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plaits the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she—"
— Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene IV
In other literature 
After her literary debut in Romeo and Juliet, she appears in works of seventeenth-century poetry, notably Ben Jonson's "The Entertainment at Althorp" and Michael Drayton's "Nymphidia". In Poole's work Parnassus, Mab is described as the Queen of the Fairies and consort to Oberon, Emperor of the Fairies. Queen Mab is alluded to in Robert Herrick's "The Argument of his Book."
Queen Mab was a successful pantomime by Henry Woodward, staged at Drury Lane, London in 1750.
"Queen Mab" is also the subtitle given to the 31st chapter of Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick, first published in 1851. In this chapter, Stubb, the second mate of the Pequod, describes to Flask, the third mate, the details of a dream in which Stubb is confronted by a merman who tells him that the kick Stubb received from Captain Ahab's whalebone leg the previous day should be considered an honour, as a great English lord would consider it an honour to be slapped by a queen.
In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, the sexually deceptive Willoughby gives his prey, Marianne, a horse named Queen Mab, a symbol for Marianne's over-eager expectations of marriage in the travelling, womanizing Willoughby.
American philosopher George Santayana wrote a short piece entitled "Queen Mab" which appeared in his 1922 book Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies. This particular soliloquy considers English literature as an indirect form of self-expression in which the English writer "will dream of what Queen Mab makes other people dream" rather than revealing him or herself.
"El velo de la reina Mab" ("The Veil of Queen Mab") is a short story by the Nicaraguan modernist Rubén Darío that explores the artist's relationship with the world, as well as the beauty of artistic creation. The story climaxes with Queen Mab enveloping the four artists in her veil, "el velo de los sueños, de los dulces sueños, que hacen ver la vida del color de rosa" ("the veil of dreams, of sweet dreams, that make the world appear rose-colored"). In this way, Queen Mab alleviates the artists' sadness, giving them hope and allowing them to continue their creative endeavors.
Queen Mab also appears as a pivotal character in two Elizabeth Bear fantasy novels, Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth. In these historical fantasy works, Queen Mab is ruler of Faerie in the sixteenth century, co-existing alongside Elizabeth I. Morgan Le Fay, William Shakespeare, Thomas Walsingham, Christopher Marlowe and other historical personages appear in this novel. Mab's rule is linked supernaturally to that of Elizabeth I, her sister queen.
In Martin Millar's book Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving (1994), the heroine, Elfish, wants to call her thrash metal band "Queen Mab". To get this name, which her ex-boyfriend claims for his own band as well, she makes a bet to learn and publicly recite Mercutio's speech.
Queen Mab also appears in the Vertigo graphic novel God Save the Queen, by Mike Carey. She is the primary antagonist; the story is based on characters seen in Vertigo's Sandman and The Books of Magic. An ancient woman (apparently a witch) appears throughout the Dark Horse Comics series Hellboy. In Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, this woman is revealed to be Queen Mab.
A fairy named Mab is one of the main characters in Francesca Lia Block's novel I Was a Teenage Fairy.
A more malevolent Queen Mab appears in Simon R. Green's Secret History series and also in his Nightside series, having returned from exile to overthrow Oberon and Titania and reclaim the throne of the Unseelie Court.
In Lesley Livingston's series Wondrous Strange, Mab (written as Mabh in the series) is the Autumn Queen of Darkness and Air.
Queen Mab is the ruler of the Unseelie Court in Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.
Film and television 
Queen Mab appeared as the main antagonist in the 1998 fantasy mini-series, Merlin. She is portrayed as a cruel, power-hungry, somewhat sociopathic goddess-like figure, the twin sister of the Lady of the Lake.
She is mentioned in the movie Fairy Tale as the fairy queen.
In the first episode of season four of HBO's original series "True Blood", Queen Mab (portrayed by Rebecca Wisocky) is the Queen of Faerie who centuries ago ordered the fae to retreat to the Plane of Faerie in the wake of vampire aggression. Under her orders, humans with fae blood (including Sookie Stackhouse) are being drawn into Faerie as well. When Sookie rebels against her and escapes back to the mortal realm, Queen Mab seals the Faerie portals for good, trapping the half-fae with her and a handful of true fae in Bon Temps.
Though the Disney cartoon Gargoyles was canceled before Queen Mab could appear, creator Greg Weisman says that she is the mother of the series' version of Oberon and would eventually have been an antagonist had the show continued.
In 6th episode of the 5th series of the BBC series Merlin, Queen Mab appears as a diminutive faerie-like creature, who directs Merlin in rhymes and riddles.
The song "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke", of Queen's second album Queen II, written by Freddie Mercury, mentions Mab in the part: "Oberon and Titania watched by a Harridan/Mab is the queen and there's a good apothecary man."
In the off-Broadway musical Bare, a Pop Opera, an abridged version of Queen Mab is sung by the character Peter, who is playing Mercutio in the fictional school which is putting on Romeo & Juliet.
Murder by Death's album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon features an instrumental track named "Queen Mab".
Traile of Murder's debut album, Shades of Art, features a song, "Mab", inspired by the character in the TV mini-series Merlin.
Personal correspondence 
Queen Mab's was a popular coffee house and open mic venue located in the basement of the Presbyterian church in Rye, New York, USA, in the 1960s.
Video games 
Queen Mab is a recurring demon in the Shin Megami Tensei series and the various spinoffs.
Queen Mab is also the naming of the ancient alien villain in Martian Gothic: Unification where the first part of Mercutio's speech is quoted in reference to the character.
Mab appears as evil fairy-type enemies in the Record of Agarest War and Record of Agarest War: Reappearance videogames with an inherent dark element attribute.
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