The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Paperback)

Staff Pick Logo
The Secret History of Wonder Woman Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
1 on hand, as of Jun 24 9:40pm

Staff Reviews

Even if you’ve never read a comic, you’ll be absorbed by the remarkable history of the first - and still most famous - female super hero. Created prior to WWII by William Marston, an unconventional man with an unconventional relationship to women, the comic was non-so-subtle propaganda for women’s equality. Marston was an entrepreneur, inventor, early advocate of women’s rights, and inveterate huckster.  Super Woman’s story lines paralleled the battle for women’s rights that was occurring both in society and in Marston’s personal life.  Marston’s polyamorous marriage did not entirely live up to the equality he espoused, and the story of his life - and the women in it - make for a new understanding of this comic feminist icon.

- Cindy

— From Cindy's Recs


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

About the Author

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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780804173407
ISBN-10: 0804173400
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: July 7th, 2015
Pages: 464
Language: English

Great American Read

Josseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness Herman Melville, Moby Dick Great American Read John Kennedy Toole, Confederacy of Dunces Alice Walker, The Color Purple