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Great Hera! It’s a new Jill Lepore book!

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Fellow reveals secret history of Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman, disguised as Jill Lepore, has been putting a lot of miles on the invisible plane recently.

The David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard, 1993 Newcombe Fellow, and New Yorker staff writer has been just about everywhere promoting her new book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Random House). With a recent appearance on The Colbert Report and reviews in publications ranging from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Entertainment Weekly and The Comics Journal, Dr. Lepore unveils the feminist origins of the iconic superhero and the strange and unknown life of her creator, William Moulton Marston.

Secret History is largely a biography of the polyamorist, feminist, bondage-loving, psychologist Marston and the women and experiences that helped shape the iconic superhero. Dr. Lepore traces the influences of the early suffragist and birth control movements and figures like Emmeline Pankhurst and Margaret Sanger on Marston and his creation of the character.

“Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” Marston wrote.lepore_wonder_woman_cover

The book made The New York Times Best Seller list in November and was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2014 by the Kirkus Review.

This is the tenth book by the prolific Dr. Lepore.

“I am bad at not working, not in the chic, smartphone-and-café, it’s-2014-everyone-works-all-the-time way, but in the I-cleaned-motel-rooms-when-I-was-nine way. I love teaching, I love research and I love writing, and I think of them as different versions of the same intellectual work, with the same challenges and the same joys,” Dr. Lepore told the Times Higher Education.

Last year, Dr. Lepore’s Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Vintage, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. In 2005 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History and received an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Knopf, 2005). Her next book is about Charles Dickens’ 1842 trip to America.

Dr. Lepore has also given lectures and talks on The Secret History of Wonder Woman at the Radcliffe Institute, the BEA Librarian Breakfast (above), and Book TV, and has had articles and excerpts from the book in The New Yorker, The Guardian, and Smithsonian Magazine.


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