Queen Mab [from Poems by Thomas Hood, 1870] drawn by French artist, Gustave Doré (1832-1883). Engraved by W. Ridgway.
‘Queen Mab’ is a fairy mentioned in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet (1597), where ‘she is the fairies’ midwife‘.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comesIn shape no bigger than an agate stoneOn the forefinger of an alderman,Drawn with a team of little atomiOver men’s noses as they lie asleep.Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,Her traces of the smallest spider’s web,Her collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.
Queen Mab was a well-known fairy in Celtic (Irish) folklore for centuries before the great bard gave her a mention. But Shakespeare made her famous and thereafter other writers couldn’t resist tackling her.