The se­cret His­tory of Won­der Woman

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Books -

Se­cret ori­gins, orig­i­nal se­crets

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

448 pages | Hard­back Au­thor: Jill Le­pore Pub­lisher: Scribe

It was no se­cret to DC’s

ed­i­tors that Won­der Woman was dis­con­cert­ingly kinky; fan let­ters from bondage fetishists only con­firmed it. No se­cret ei­ther that her cre­ator, Wil­liam Moul­ton Marston, meant her to be not just a fe­male hero but a fem­i­nist one. The se­crets un­cov­ered here ex­plain why.

Marston’s life re­volved around se­crets and de­cep­tion. He had four chil­dren by two women, and they all lived to­gether un­der one roof. One of the women, Olive Byrne, was re­lated to great suf­frag­ists of the early 1900s, and wore “slave bracelets” that in­spired Won­der Woman’s. This book traces the roots of the mythos in fem­i­nist im­agery and con­cepts, as well as iden­ti­fy­ing some very spe­cific sources in ear­lier works, as well as events and peo­ple in Marston’s life.

It also re­counts Marston’s check­ered ca­reer as an aca­demic psy­chol­o­gist, lawyer and writer, and his im­pact in all th­ese fields. He pro­moted him­self as “in­ven­tor of the lie de­tec­tor” ( de­cep­tion again), which was half- true – his ef­forts helped pop­u­larise the de­vice – but the book also dis­cov­ers his role in the land­mark case which ruled that lie de­tec­tor ev­i­dence was in­ad­miss­able in US courts.

Seam­lessly com­bin­ing rig­or­ous schol­ar­ship and riv­et­ing read­abil­ity, this richly re­ward­ing book il­lu­mi­nates the his­to­ries of a prob­lem­atic comics icon. A must- read. Alex Sum­mersby Marston chose HG Peter to draw Won­der Woman, pos­si­bly be­cause he’d drawn pro­suf­frage cartoons in Judge mag­a­zine.

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