London: W. Clark, 1821. First published edition. 8vo, pp. 182. Bound in little rubbed black pebbled morocco. TEG, little worn at the extremities and along the spine, a very good looking copy. This has been bound without the rare dedicatory poem to the author's first wife, Harriet, and without the adv. leaf but with the full unexpurgated text. The last free endpaper has a pencil transcription by a previous owner of a portion of a letter from Shelley to John Gisborne from Pisa in which he mentions a recent printing of Queen Mab. The is the first published edition of Shelley's first poem of any length. It was privately printed in 1813 in a very small edition, and originally contained a poetical dedication to Harriet which Shelley was in the habit of cutting out in copies he gave to friends. Much to Shelley's consternation, this edition was printed by Clark without the poet's authorisation (Clark spent 4 months in prison for it), and, according to Granniss "some copies contain the dedication to Harriet (his first wife who had committed suicide in 1816), and in some, certain words and lines have been omitted..." According to Graniss, "Clark's sheets fell into the hands of Carlile who issued them both in the original and mutilated forms, in 1822 ..."Grannis 19; Tinker 1888. Item #51884
While a student at Oxford, Shelley advocated atheism and this early poem, written in 1812-1813, is a long work inveighing against orthodox Christianity and secular tyranny. St Clair notes (p. 340) that Shelley had written an epic in complex Spenserian stanzas, but this poem was no fake medieval romance, but a full scale philosophical treatise ... Following the example of Volney's Ruins of Empires, a book which Shelly adored ... the poet takes the reader on a fantasy ride into the heavens in the chariot of the fairy queen. Queen Mab explains the theory of necessity and offers the argument that the seed of perfection lies in every heart. The argument, spread through nine singing cantos and a huge addendum of explanatory notes is almost identical with that of the first edition of [Godwin's] Political Justice. This was originally privately printed by the author in 1813 as the inflammatory nature of the content made it impossible to be published in the normal way.