The Secret History of Wonder Woman

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Oct 28, 2014 - Social Science - 448 pages
24 Reviews

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of Wonder Woman, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman 
is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.
 
This edition includes a new afterword with fresh revelations based on never before seen letters and photographs from the Marston family’s papers.

With 161 illustrations and 16 pages in full color

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SESchend - LibraryThing

Fascinating and in-depth bio of William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman (definitely) and the lie detector (tentatively, if not publicly embraced); for those looking more for Wonder Woman, her ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fromthecomfychair - LibraryThing

Highly readable, full of jaw-dropping admissions about the scandalous life of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman and the lie detector test. Scandalous because Marston was a ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her Book of Ages was a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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