Dear Abby is an American advice column founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name "Abigail Van Buren" and carried on today by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now owns the legal rights to the pen name.
According to Pauline Phillips, she came up with the pen name Abigail Van Buren by combining the name of Biblical figure Abigail in the Book of I Samuel, with the last name of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.
The column was syndicated by McNaught Syndicate from 1956 until 1966, when it moved to Universal Press Syndicate. Dear Abby's current syndication company claims the column is "well-known for sound, compassionate advice, delivered with the straightforward style of a good friend."
In comparing the columns written by each of the sisters, the Jewish Women's Archive wrote that "Both columns were characterized by a straightforward tone, practical advice, and a firm but modern moral sensibility" and that "both women used humor, including sarcasm and one-liners, in their responses."
Ask Ann Landers
A few months before Pauline Phillips started Dear Abby, her twin sister Eppie Lederer took over the Ann Landers column created by Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943. This similar column, Ask Ann Landers, was written from 1955 to 2002 by the elder Phillips twin sister Eppie Lederer. This produced a rivalry and lengthy estrangement between the two sisters.
On February 13, 1987, the Chicago Tribune announced that the Ann Landers column was moving to the Tribune, which had published the Dear Abby column for years. The Tribune ran both columns, Landers every day and Abby six days a week.
After Eppie Lederer's June 22, 2002 death, the spirit of the column was continued by Lederer's editors, Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, under the name Annie's Mailbox. Thus, the Annie's Mailbox column began on July 28, 2002 in approximately 800 newspapers.
Annie's Mailbox was syndicated in numerous newspapers throughout the US, until June 30, 2016. On that date, Mitchell and Sugar, wrote "...we say farewell. It is time for us to step aside and take advantage of opportunities neither of us has had the time for until now." They also introduced columnist Annie Lane, known as Dear Annie.
Change in writer
Pauline Phillips wrote the column herself until 1987, at which time her daughter Jeanne Phillips began writing the column with her. It was announced in 2000 that Jeanne Phillips had become the sole author of the column, while also revealing that her mother had Alzheimer's disease.
Although the change took place in 2000, the official statement, which included adding "Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips" at the bottom of each column, did not take place until July of 2002.
Pauline Phillips died on January 16, 2013, aged 94.
Dear Abby, which the New York Times described as "a staple in American households for decades," gets attention. A 2018 column about selecting children's names, "inspired a fresh debate about identity, acceptance and inclusion."
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- "About Dear Abby". uExpress (uexpress.com). Retrieved May 1, 2014.
- "Advice Columnist Ann Landers Leaves Chicago Sun-Times for rival Tribune". The Telegraph. Associated Press. February 14, 1987. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
- "'Dear Abby' moves from Tribune to Sun-Times, APFN". Associated Press. June 1, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
- Langer, Emily (January 17, 2013). "Pauline Phillips, better known as 'Dear Abby,' dies at 94". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
- David Rambo (2006). The Lady with All the Answers. p. 10. ISBN 0822221632.
- "Birth of advice-givers Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren". Jewish Women's Archive.
- Judd, Robin. "Ann Landers biography". Jewish Virtual Library.
- "Ann Landers Last Column". CBS News. July 27, 2002. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- Astor, Dave (January 13, 2003). "Who's Answering 'Annie's Mailbox'?". Editor & Publisher.
- Potempa, Philip (August 10, 2012). "Annie's Mailbox syndicated advice columnists celebrate a decade of answering life's questions". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- Mitchell, Kathy; Sugar, Marcy (June 30, 2016). "Living Our Lives to the Fullest". Creators Syndicate. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- Jeanne Phillips (May 2019). "Q&A Dear Abby (Jeanne Phillips): I am way beyond being surprised by things my readers write to me". AARP Bulletin.
- Josh Freed (July 18, 2002). "'Dear Abby' Daughter Takes Over". Editor & Publisher.
- "Dear Abby creator has Alzheimer's, family announces". Chicago Tribune. August 7, 2002.
Last month, Jeanne Phillips began taking sole credit for the column.
- Martinez, Michael (March 7, 2013). "Pauline Phillips, longtime Dear Abby advice columnist, dies at 94". CNN.
- John Eligon (October 18, 2018). "No 'Foreign' Names for Children, Dear Abby Advised. Furious Parents Replied". The New York Times.
- Official website
- Abigail Van Buren (1918–2013) at Library of Congress Authorities, with 7 catalog records
- Works by or about Van Buren (that is, the elder Phillips) in libraries (WorldCat catalog)