Sunday Times readers are going to have to navigate the future without the help of Shelley von Strunckel who has left the paper 28 years after she became the first UK broadsheet astrologist.
Andrew Neil hired von Strunckel to write the first broadsheet weekly horoscopes column in 1992.
But her final column at the back of the Sunday Times Style magazine, published on 28 June, went without a bang – with only small mentions of it being “farewell from Shelley”.
She wrote on Twitter that it had been an “abrupt end of our journalistic ‘romance’” and “sudden parting”. She plans to publish an alternative to her column on her redesigned website each Sunday.
Von Strunckel told Press Gazette that Sunday Times Style editor Lorraine Candy had phoned her a few days before her final column was filed and said “I don’t want you to do the column anymore”.
“It never was Lorraine’s thing,” von Strunckel said. “I’ve worked with editors who’ve ranged from being huge fans to literally being uncomfortable with me in the room but they got that readers liked it and in this case the story is they were cutting back content but it’s just not her thing.”
Von Strunckel, who still has a daily column in the Evening Standard, is currently writing a book to be published by Dorling Kindersley in November that she says will act as a “jumping off point for the conversation about the changes that are going on in the world”.
“So what’s happening on one hand is my brand is extending really and at the same time I had an editor who just simply didn’t get astrology and she just didn’t want it in her book – and people bought the paper for me, we know that.”
Of her column’s debut on 12 July 1992, von Strunckel said: “It caused a wonderful kerfuffle – a Bishop stopped his subscription to the Sunday Times – but it was a hit and what was fun then was they had a lot of illustrations… the paper had a grand old time,” she said.
“So early on everyone really enjoyed the idea. Then it got moved to Style and I think it’s because editors think astrology as women’s stuff but let me point out Andrew Neil was the one who started it. I think it would have been happier in a newsier spot, but many newspaper editors are so fact-based they don’t get it. I can tell you from my client base, it’s men.”
Von Strunckel’s place in the Sunday Times Style pages appears to have been taken by returning writer to the magazine Dolly Alderton, whose agony aunt column began on Sunday 5 July.
Candy said: “I’m delighted Dolly is returning to the pages of Style. She will be the perfect agony aunt with her mixture of empathy, warmth and wit, and I know her wise words will resonate with many women.”
The Express and Mirror still run a daily horoscopes column with Russell Grant, the Sun features Mystic Meg daily, and the Mail also runs astrology and horoscope predictions.
The Sunday Times has been contacted for comment.
Picture: Sueya Shaeen