"The couch, as she always called it, was a genuine Queen Mab"

Queen Mab by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)
Public DomainQueen Mab by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813) - Credit: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Queen Mab made her literary debut in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, in a speech by Mercutio (Act I, scene iv):


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.


Queen Mab was a tiny fairy who would drive her chariot into the brains of sleeping people and help "give birth" to their dreams. She was a popular figure, inspiring the 1813 Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. In Barrie's earlier work, The Little White Bird (1902), Queen Mab resided in Kensington Gardens and granted Peter Pan his desire to fly again.

Queen Mab appears as a horse in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1811), and as the fairy queen of Unseelie court in Jim Butcher's series, the Dresden Files.