The Ladies' Mercury

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Ladies Mercury
27 February 1693

The Ladies' Mercury was a periodical published for four weeks by The Athenian Society and its founder John Dunton. Its first issue was published in London on 27 February 1693.[1] It was a spin-off of The Athenian Mercury, and the first periodical published and specifically designed just for women.


London author John Dunton published The Athenian Mercury, the first major periodical in England or Scotland designed to appeal to both men and women. Dunton's Athenian Mercury dealt with all kinds of topics like science, religion, love, marriage and sex. The Athenian Mercury was a public forum where questions were submitted by both men and women. Because of the popularity among women of topics like love and marriage, the editor decided to devote the first Tuesday of each month to these topics only. This policy was announced by the editors on 3 June 1691. That concept was designed to answer "reasonable questions sent to us by the fair sex" and the editors would reply to questions poised to the periodical.[2]

The Ladies Mercury, printed in London, was a subsequent spin-off from the monthly lady's topics of the Athenian Mercury. It printed an advice column starting 27 February 1693. The Ladies Mercury was a weekly publication promising to respond to "all the most nice and curious questions concerning love, marriage, behaviour, dress and humour of the female sex, whether virgins, wives, or widows."[3]

The Ladies Mercury filled a single sheet printed on both sides. It was only published for four weeks, starting on 27 February and ending on 17 March 1693.[2] In effect a women's magazine, the Mercury was not called a "magazine"; the first use of that word is considered to be the general interest publication The Gentleman's Magazine which began in 1731.[4]


Other publications designed specifically for women only followed soon after, without much more success: the Female Tatler was a spin-off from the Tatler, and The Female Spectator by Eliza Haywood, was a short-lived monthly publication in answer to The Spectator.[5]


  1. ^ Anzovin, item 4454, p. 294 "The first advice column appeared in the first issue (dated Feb 27, 1693) of the first magazine for women, The Ladies Mercury, published by London bookseller John Dunton. The entire magazine, filling both sides of a single sheet, was devoted to the advice column, which offered expert replies to questions submitted by readers on the matters of love, marriage, and sex."
  2. ^ a b Turner, p. 65
  3. ^ Keeble, p. 13
  4. ^ Morrish, p. 5
  5. ^ Issuing her own: The Female Tatler


  • Anzovin, Steven et al., Famous First Facts (International Edition), H. W. Wilson Company, 2000, ISBN 0-8242-0958-3
  • Keeble, Richard, Print Journalism, Taylor & Francis, 2005, ISBN 0-415-35882-5
  • Morrish, John, Magazine Editing: How to Develop and Manage a Successful Publication, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-415-30381-8
  • Turner, David M., Fashioning adultery: gender, sex, and civility in England, 1660-1740, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-79244-4

Further reading[edit]