The Secret History of Wonder Woman
Within the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of feminism in the twentieth-century.
“Everything you might want in a page-turner … skeletons in the closet, a believe-it-or-not weirdness in its biographical details, and something else that secretly powers even the most “serious” feminist history—fun.” —Entertainment Weekly
The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Jill 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.
Lepore, a Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston.
The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. Even while celebrating conventional family life in a regular column that Marston and Byrne wrote for Family Circle, 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.
Includes a new afterword with fresh revelations based on never before seen letters and photographs from the Marston family’s papers, and 161 illustrations and 16 pages in full color.