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Agony Aunt
Agony aunt

Prurience or a public service? Tonic or titillation? Probably all of them. The agony aunt and her male equivalent, the agony uncle, are a mainstay of newspapers, magazines, radio and television and there are thousands on the Internet. Their trenchant advice to the lovelorn and generally wretched on emotional, sexual and health problems, as well as much else has poured out in the past 50 years or so.

Advice columns have been around since the 1930s, but the term itself did not gain currency until the 1970s, with the first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1975. One of the best-known columns, Ann Landers, was in the Chicago Sun-Times. According to her obituary in the Chicago Tribune, ‘Dear Ann’ began running in the ...

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