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Dear Abby is the name of the advice column founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name "Abigail Van Buren" and carried on today by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now owns the legal rights to the pen name.
According to Pauline Phillips, she came up with the pen name Abigail Van Buren by combining the name of Biblical figure Abigail in the Book of I Samuel, with the last name of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.
The column was syndicated by McNaught Syndicate from 1956 until 1966, when it moved to Universal Press Syndicate. Dear Abby's current syndication company claims the column is "well-known for sound, compassionate advice, delivered with the straightforward style of a good friend."
Abby was born Pauline Esther Friedman and her sister was born Esther Pauline Friedman. She was known as Popo at home (short for Pauline) and her sister was Eppie (a nickname from E.P.).
A similar column, Ask Ann Landers, was written from 1955 to 2002 by the elder Phillips' twin sister Eppie Lederer. A few months before Pauline Phillips started Dear Abby, her twin sister Eppie Lederer took over as Ann Landers. This produced a lengthy estrangement between the two sisters.
Pauline Phillips wrote the column herself until 2000, at which time her daughter Jeanne Phillips began officially writing the column with her. Jeanne Phillips became sole author in August 2002, also announcing that her mother had Alzheimer's disease.
Pauline Phillips died on January 16, 2013, aged 94.