Wednesday, December 3

Harvard Book Store Presents (Past Events)Special Events Archive

Jill Lepore

*SOLD OUT* Ticket Information

Jill Lepore discusses The Secret History of Wonder Woman

This event includes a book signing.

*SOLD OUT* $5 Tickets on sale now at Harvard.com. Unable to attend? Order the book(s) or pre-order a signed copy from Harvard Book Store. No Brattle Passes.

Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed author and Harvard University professor JILL LEPORE for a discussion of her latest book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is 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.

This talk will be followed by a screening of the 1974 Wonder Woman pilot (an archival 35mm print!) at 8pm, with an introduction by Jill Lepore. Tickets for the screening are available separately here.

Purchase the Book – Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.


Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ‘41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her books include Book of Ages, a finalist for the National Book Award; New York Burning, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Name of War, winner of the Bancroft Prize; and The Mansion of Happiness, which was short-listed for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Dari Michele