The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore - review by Helen DeWitt

Helen DeWitt

Girl Power

The Secret History of Wonder Woman


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‘A great movement [is] now underway – the growth in the power of women,’ wrote William Moulton Marston to his editor in February 1941, submitting his first Wonder Woman script. ‘Let that theme alone or drop the project.’ His editor let it alone. Wonder Woman went on to be the most popular superhero after Superman and Batman, reaching millions of readers. She was in the right place at the right time: Superman appeared on the scene in 1938, Batman in May 1939. The exploits of these superheroes were devoured by American children. 

In September 1939, while the Nazis advanced across Europe, peace-loving Americans looked at the violence of comic books: were these a bad influence on the nation’s youth? Olive Richard, a columnist for Family Circle, discussed the question in an interview with Marston, a distinguished psychologist and a recurring star of

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