Women’s magazines can be found in stores everywhere, as well as online. They’re incredibly popular. Almost every woman’s magazine today was started within the last 100 years, which could lead some people to believe that they’re a relatively modern phenomenon. However, they’re a lot older than you might think.
In fact, the very first women’s magazine ever, called The Ladies’ Mercury, was published on February 27, 1693. It was just a single large sheet of paper that was printed on both sides, but it had distinct similarities to today’s women’s magazines. It offered tips for having good relationships, gave fashion advice, had humorous sections, and also had an advice column in which people wrote in with their problems, which came to be known as the “problem page.”
The Ladies’ Mercury was actually a spin-off of an earlier magazine, The Athenian Mercury. That magazine was aimed at a more general audience and dealt with topics such as religion, science, and marriage. It had a question and answer column, and publisher John Dunton noticed that a lot of the questions asked by women readers dealt with the same topics. So he decided to launch a women’s version of his magazine and brought over the advice column feature from the original magazine.
The Ladies’ Mercury was only published for four weeks, but it spawned a lasting legacy in that brief time. Soon after it came out, other publications followed suit, issuing their own women’s magazines, a tradition that continues to this day.