The secret History of Wonder Woman
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.