Ask me anything

The agony and ecstasy of the advice columnist

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  • Published 20240507
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-95-5
  • Extent: 203pp
  • Paperback, ePub, PDF, Kindle compatible

When Slate launched its ‘Dear Prudence’ advice column in 1997, the eponymous Prudence was the latest in a centuries-­long line of pseudonymous and beloved agony aunts, from Dorothy Dix to Dear Abby, who dispensed guidance on manners, morals and more. But what about the person behind the persona? In 2016, US writer and editor Daniel M Lavery – co-­founder of legendary humour website The Toast and the author of books including Texts from Jane Eyre – took up the helm as Prudence; he was the fourth writer to assume the mantle since the column began. For the next six years, while navigating seismic changes in his own life, Lavery offered wise counsel and whip-­smart jokes to thousands of vexed letter writers. In this conversation, which has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity, he talks to Griffith Review Editor Carody Culver about the pleasures and pitfalls of other people’s problems.

CARODY CULVER: In your book Dear Prudence: Liberating Lessons from’s Beloved Advice Column, you note that you’ve had an interest in advice columns since you were a teenager. What appealed to you about them when you were young?

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About the author

Daniel M Lavery

Daniel M Lavery is a co-founder of The Toast and the author of Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favourite Literary...

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