Judith Martin (born September 13, 1938), better known by the pen name Miss Manners, is an American writer and etiquette authority.
She writes a twice-weekly advice column for the Washington Post which is syndicated in many newspapers. In it, she answers etiquette questions contributed by her readers. She frequently adds short essays on problems of manners, or to improve understanding of the essential quality of politeness. Her columns, noted for their wit, analysis, and broad knowledge of history and customs and their applications to the problems of today, are collected in a number of books.
In a 1995 interview by Virginia Shea, Miss Manners said "You can deny all you want that there is etiquette, and a lot of people do in everyday life. But if you behave in a way that offends the people you're trying to deal with, they will stop dealing with you...There are plenty of people who say, 'We don't care about etiquette, but we can't stand the way so-and-so behaves, and we don't want him around!' Etiquette doesn't have the great sanctions that the law has. But the main sanction we do have is in not dealing with these people and isolating them because their behavior is unbearable."
Before she began the advice column, she was a journalist and theater and film critic. She was born and raised in Washington, DC, where she still lives and works.
Samples of her answers
Dear Miss Manners: What is the correct way to walk in high-heeled shoes?
Gentle Reader: Left, right, left, right, left, right.
Dear Miss Manners: How should I address a homosexual couple?
Gentle Reader: 'How do you do?' 'How do you do?'
Dear Miss Manners: How is a hat properly worn?
Gentle Reader: Same as always; on the head.
Dear Miss Manners: What about Easter? I suppose you have etiquette rules that apply to Easter Day?
Gentle Reader: Certainly, and when the Day of Judgment comes, Miss Manners will have etiquette rules to apply to that, as well.
Dear Miss Manners: What is the proper way to eat potato chips?
Gentle Reader: With a knife and fork. A fruit knife and an oyster fork, to be specific. Good heavens, what is the world coming to? Miss Manners does not mind explaining the finer points of gracious living, but she feels that anyone without the sense to pick up a potato chip and stuff it in their face should probably not be running around loose on the streets."
Miss Manners doubts that there is anything in the world like an elegantly dressed Bostonian lurching across the room and diving face first into a bowl of guacamole dip while simultaneously disengaging her bodice from her bosom. Therefore, Miss Manners has a wee bit of trouble preparing a general rule for dealing with this eventuality." | Full article here, near end of page
- Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior
- Miss Manners Rescues Civilization: From Sexual Harassment, Frivolous Lawsuits, Dissing and Other Lapses in Civility
- Miss Manners on Weddings
- Miss Manners on Painfully Proper Weddings
- Common Courtesy: In Which Miss Manners Solves the Problem That Baffled Mr. Jefferson
- Miss Manners' Guide to the Turn-of-the-Millennium
- Miss Manners' Basic Training: Communication
- Miss Manners' Basic Training: The Right Thing To Say
- Miss Manners' Basic Training: Eating
- Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children
- Star-Spangled Manners