THE ATHENIAN MERCURY
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.