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The Athenian Mercury was a twice-weekly periodical published by The Athenian Society, believed to have introduced the advice column format. John Dunton (1659-1733) served as the Editor-in-Chief, with the content written alongside other members of The Athenian Society. The periodical provided a space where reader’s queries were answered, with questions accepted from both men and women.  Aimed at both male and female readers, it covered a range of topics from science to sex. Dunton claimed the content was plagiarised by The Lacedemonian Mercury (also in this archive), prompting Dunton to use advertising to encourage readers to resubmit their questions for amended answers. According to Dunton, notable figures submitted questions to the periodical, including Jonathan Swift (1677-1745). The ‘question and answer’ format was later adopted by Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) in some of his projects, and is still common to this day as the root of ‘agony aunt’ columns in many contemporary publications.


“Quest. I. Why do the Evangelists deduce the Genealogy ….” Athenian Mercury, 13 Dec. 1692

“Quest. 1. One asserts, that the rational Faculty is ….” Athenian Mercury, 24 Dec. 1692

“A Voluntary on the Nativity of our Blessed Lord. Christmass-Day. 1692.” Athenian Mercury, 3 Jan. 1693

“Quest. 1. Descartes has been branded by several Ingenious ….” Athenian Mercury, 4 Feb. 1693


The authorship of The Female Tatler is a mystery, as like The Tatler it was published under a pseudonym. Writing under the name ‘Mrs. Crackenthorpe’, the identity of the writer (or writers) has yet to be definitively established. It was highly innovative in its discussion of women and women’s issues, and it was ahead of its time in its attitudes. It covered issues such as women’s education, appearance and social etiquette, and was open in its critique of women being denied the benefits of progress by their male counterparts. The Female Tatler began in July 1709, but in August (from issue 19) the publication split into two rival papers following a dispute between the author and printer. For two months, two papers claiming to be “By Mrs. Crackenthorpe, a Lady that knows every thing” competed for female readership under the same title, The Female Tatler.  In October 1709, the paper printed by the original printer (Benjamin Bragge) ceased publication, while the splinter paper (printed by Abigail Baldwin) continued publishing until March 1710. Both are present in the collection.


“Some Persons of Quality, and polite Conversation, have ….” Female Tatler [B. Bragge], 13 July 1709

“At our next Interview, the admirable Lady Meanwel (after ….” Female Tatler [B. Bragge], 19 Aug. 1709

“Of all the Fassions that way and influence Mankind, ….” Female Tatler [B. Bragge], 26 Aug. 1709

“There are some Ladies in the World, whose Constitutions ….” Female Tatler [B. Bragge], 2 Sept. 1709



John Nichols’ collection included many publications relating news from outside of the United Kingdom. As the merchant classes grew, news from abroad became an important element of news publications, and they began to broaden their horizons beyond reprinting London news, and local stories. Some of the publications in this archive relating international news include:

  • The Haerlem Courant, Truly Rendred into English
  • The Impartial Protestant Mercury, Or Occurrences Foreign and Domestick
  • The Loyal Impartial Mercury, or News both Forreign and Domestick
  • Mercurius Civicus or, an Account of Affairs both Forreign and Domestick
  • The True Protestant Mercury, or Occurrences Foreign and Domestick
  • The Weekly Pacquet of Advice from Germany, or the History of the Reformation of Religion There


“News.” Impartial Protestant Mercury, or Occurrences Foreign and Domestick, 31 May 1681

“Foreign Occurences.” Mercurius Civicus, or an Account of Affairs both Forreign and Domestick, 22 Apr. 1680

“News.” True Protestant Mercury, or Occurrences Foreign and Domestick [Janeway], 4 Oct. 1682

“The Sum of what was done as to Reformation, Anno 1516.” Weekly Pacquet of Advice from Germany, or the History of the Reformation of Religion There, 3 Sept. 1679



The Ladies Mercury was the first periodical designed for a female audience and ran for four weeks during 1693. It provided an important moment in publishing history, opening the door to future publications aimed at entirely female audiences. The Ladies Mercury inspired many subsequent publications for female-only audiences, including The Female Tatler, also contained in this archive. A single sheet publication, The Ladies Mercury was a response to the success of female-oriented topics in The Athenian Mercury, which were so popular that the first Tuesday edition of each month had been dedicated to responses to women’s questions. Published by John Dunton, it introduced a female-specific version of the ‘problem page’ into Britain, a format that has remained a staple part of many magazines to the current day.


“To the Athenians.” Ladies Mercury, 28 Feb. 1693

“Quest. 1. Our English History informs us, That about ….” Ladies Mercury, 6 Mar. 1693

“Quest. 1. I am a young Fellow, scarce twenty, of considerabl ….” Ladies Mercury, 10 Mar. 1693

“Quest. 1. If, as Warner says in the Play,‘Tis hard ….” Ladies Mercury, 17 Mar. 1693



The Tatler was founded by Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729) and Joseph Addison (1672-1719), and ran for two years between 1709 and 1711. A tri-weekly publication, it introduced a new approach to journalism, stepping away from traditional reportage and focusing on essays dedicated to news and gossip circulating in the growing coffeehouses of London. The majority of the content is believed to have been written by Steele, who adopted the persona of Isaac Bickerstaff, believed to be the first known usage of an authorial persona. Although all articles are credited to Bickerstaff, they were in fact written by Steele or Addison, with some contributions from Jonathan Swift. Both Whig politicians, Steele and Addison placed Whiggish views and opinions throughout their writings. When The Tatler came under Tory attack, it was shut down. Steele and Addison subsequently founded The Spectator in 1711 and The Guardian in 1713. The Tatler was a highly influential publication, creating an approach that would be continued by many notable titles in subsequent years, including Samuel Johnson’s Rambler.


“Tho’ the other Papers which are publish’d for the Use ….” Tatler, 12 Apr. 1709

“News.” Tatler, 21 Apr. 1709

“News.” Tatler, 5 May 1709

“News.” Tatler, 17 May 1709



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