The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Heather Havrilesky

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Heather Havrilesky until we are able to commission a full entry.

Through her ongoing advice column “Ask Polly,” collected in the 2016 book How to Be a Person in the World, Heather Havrilesky offers advice on love and life to millennials. Havrilesky studied psychology at Duke University and graduated in 1992. She began her career in online journalism as a columnist for from 1996–2001, where she co-created the comic strip Filler under the whimsical pseudonym Polly Esther, a name she would later re-use for her advice column “Ask Polly.” She then became a TV critic and writer for beginning in 2003. She wrote her first memoir, Disaster Preparedness, in 2011, using the strange coping mechanisms she created in childhood as a jumping-off point for talking about her family and the lessons she learned on the way to adulthood. In 2012 she began writing “Ask Polly” for New York Magazine’s The Cut. The advice column was unusual for Havrilesky’s blend of long, essay-style answers, frequent use of all caps, and willingness to share her own painful experiences to reassure advice-seekers that they are not alone.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Heather Havrilesky." (Viewed on September 26, 2021) <>.


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