“The Secret History of Wonder Woman is as racy, as improbable, as awesomely righteous, and as filled with curious devices as an episode of the comic book itself. In the nexus of feminism and popular culture, Jill Lepore has found a revelatory chapter of American history. I will never look at Wonder Woman’s bracelets the same way again.”
– Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
The Secret History of Wonder Woman
Toronto Book Talk with author Jill Lepore
Interviewed by The Globe & Mail’s Nathalie Atkinson
Thursday, December 11th, 2014, @ 7PM
@ The Merril Collection, 239 College Street (Inside the Lillian H. Smith Library)
Free to attend
Sponsored by The Friends of The Merril Collection, The Beguiling, and Random House Canada
The Beguiling, The Friends of the Merril Collection, and Random House Canada, are proud to present author Jill Lepore, who will discuss her new book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman in Toronto! Lepore will speak on the book, and be interviewed by The Globe & Mail’s Nathalie Atkinson, at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction on Thursday, December 11 in the Merril Collection reading room, on the 3rd floor of the Lillian Smith branch at 7PM.
For those not in the know, Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman is shaping up to be one of the fall’s biggest non-fiction releases, a scintillating and expertly-researched look behind the scenes of the creation of one of North America’s most important modern mythologies! Brilliantly excerpted in The New Yorker, the book is already a must-read for fans of the character as superhero, as feminist icon, and as a gateway to the social mores of the early 20th century. This is sure to be an amazing and entertaining talk!
The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore, is currently available for purchase in-store at The Beguiling.
More about the book below!
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.
About The Secret History of Wonder Woman:
A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism
Wonder Woman, created in 1941, is the most popular female superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no superhero has lasted as long or commanded so vast and wildly passionate a following. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she has also has a secret history.
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.
Praise for The Secret History of Wonder Woman
Art Spiegelman, author of Maus
“Jill Lepore’s obsessively researched book on Wonder Woman, the four-color embodiment of the women’s rights movement, reveals that the life of the character’s creator, Dr. William Marston—inventor of the lie detector, charming crank, ardent feminist and secret polygamist—was waaay more colorful than any comic book superhero. Suffering Sappho!”
Chris Ware, author of Building Stories
“An absolutely unputdownable book. The life history of polymath charlatan and/or genius (I couldn’t ever decide) William Moulton Marston, who worked his way through law, movie scenarios, lie detection, ménages a trois, free love, BDSM and polygamy before creating the first feminist super-person had me saying ‘wow’ practically every other page. And that’s not even mentioning the tough-as-nails women he exalted, lifted from and, uh, shared who make up the molten core of this newly-revealed story. Rocketing from the suffragism of the 1910s to the ERA of the 1970s on a wave of home-spun pop culture righteousness, this story’s head-spinning weirdness ultimately makes you question your own accomplishments, aims, and—almost like a great modern novel—your real motives.”