The column was initiated on 20 December 1997. "Prudence" was a pseudonym, and the author's true identity was not revealed at the time. Slate's archive currently indicates that the author of those first columns was Herbert Stein. Stein ceased writing the column after three months and the column went on hiatus.
In mid-March 1998, the column returned, with the explanation that "Prudence" had not come back from her "needlework"--per the explanation offered in Stein's last column--but rather had convinced her daughter and namesake to continue her work. While similarly anonymous at first, the new author of the column was eventually revealed to be Margo Howard, the daughter of Esther Lederer, aka Ann Landers.
Howard maintained the column for nearly eight years. Her last Dear Prudence column appeared in Slate on 2 February 2006. Howard then had a Creators Syndicate advice column called "Dear Margo", whose run ended on Friday, 10 May 2013.
On 9 February 2006, "Dear Prudence" was taken over by Slate staffer Emily Yoffe. Beginning in the summer of 2007, when Slate video magazine Slate V was launched, Yoffe also appeared in short, videorecorded Dear Prudence clips, illustrated with animations.
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