Saturday, 27 February 2021

the question project

Editor in chief John Dunton of The Athenian Mercury, the periodical written and published by The Athenian Society of London between 1690 and 1697 not only included a regular advice column, the first of its kind, soliciting and attempting to answer anonymous questions from the broad readership—most with a distinctly philosophical bent, though love, marriage and sex were discussed as well. Early on during the project, the board received a letter from a “gentle-woman” asking whether ladies could also submit inquiries—to which Dunton replied with the assurance that not only were women encouraged to submit questions but that they would be treated with the same level of seriousness as those from men and published both q and a. This however gave Dunton the idea for a spin-off, printing the first edition of The Ladies Mercury on this day in 1693, the first magazine specifically for women. This was soon followed by The Female Tattler and The Female Spectator.