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ENGL prof reviews new book on Wonder Woman

Tue. Jan. 13, 2015

Brandon Christopher teaches literature in the Department of English. Recently, Christopher reviewed The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Harvard history prof Jill Lepore for the Winnipeg Free Press. (“Author susses out Wonder Woman’s fascinating feminist roots” retrieved from the WFP website on January 14, 2015.)

According to Christopher, the book relates the character and exploits of Wonder Woman to the early history of feminism, but in it, Lepore also tells the story of Wonder Woman creator, William Moulton Marston. Marston is something of an early feminist in his interests and in his thinking, but has unconventional relationships with the women in his life, Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne. Marston lives with and has children with both of them. Christopher maintains that it is the story of these two women, as the “the untold heroes of Wonder Woman’s original story,” that is of particular interest to Lepore, especially that of Byrne’s relationship with Marston, where Byrne was publicly portrayed as the family’s domestic help.

Christopher concludes that as both a history of the fictional character of Wonder Woman and as the story of the real lives of Marston, Holloway and Byrne, the book is well worth reading: “The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a spectacularly researched, immensely readable, and visually appealing history that paints a compelling portrait of the cultural and personal contexts that gave birth to one of the most enduring characters in comics.”