Pride Profile: The Marstons

:00_dc_pride:Pride Profile: The Marstons. William Moulton Marston is credited with creating Wonder Woman but, like much of what Marston gave himself credit for, that is only a partial truth at best. Olive Byrne, all but legally Marston’s second wife, wrote an article for Family Circle magazine about her “visit” with the famous psychologist William Marston where he lauded the educational potential of comic books. This made him known in the offices of DC, who eventually offered him the chance to write a comic book. From this, he developed Wonder Woman with suggestions from his first and legal wife Elizabeth Holloway to make the hero a woman, using her knowledge of ancient Greek and modern feminist literature, a shared experience among the three with lie detectors, and their personal history with the feminist movement. Marston’s Wonder Woman stories are infused with the ideas of early feminism from literally breaking the bonds that held women captive to an island or a future ruled by women. And, critics of Wonder Woman, including Seduction of the Innocent author Wertham, were not entirely off base identifying a lesbian undertone with the idea of Paradise Island. The contributions of his wives, particularly Elizabeth, went far beyond ‘inspired by.’

As for this unconventional household, while the 2017 movie Professor Marston and the Wonder Women depicted an intimate relationship between Elizabeth and Olive there is no available evidence to support this and the family has steadfastly denied it. And really, in the end it is beside the point. Both women, and Marston himself, came of age fully immersed in what was then the radical fringe of early 20th Century feminism challenging ideas of women’s place in society and the family. The relationship and roles these women developed were also essential in supporting the family with Marston’s continual career instability. We do know the women loved one another and stayed together as a family until their deaths decades after Marston’s. What we can say, is that this family in more than one way made major contributions to Pride representation in comics


Pride Month Club Discussions. Need a deeper look at other creators? Check out these club discussions from across the DCUI.

World of Bats: Batwoman Elegy

Doom Patrol Pride Month

DC History Club: Supergirl: Being Super

DC History and Harley’s Crew: V for Vendetta

DC Book Club: Pride Month

Characters of DC: Midnighter and Apollo

Birds of Prey Club: Batwoman and Montoya

DC History Club: The Pride History of the DCU

Harley’s Crew: Harley and Ivy


Recently we had a WAL for that great biopic, which may not be accurate historically, but I felt like thematically it was beautiful. Check it out if you haven’t yet!


Thanks for the reminder @Mae, tied into that was the DC History Club’s:

Between Harley’s Crew and the History Club this was absolutely one of my favorite topic months.


Was the movie made by DC?


No, a number of smaller production companies along with Sony Pictures. The family it sounds like was not thrilled with the depiction, and it does take liberties even with facts that we know to be true. But, still a nice piece of entertainment if you’re okay with adult themes.


I was just asking b/c I was wondering whether to mention them here: Who Are All the LGBT+/Queer Characters at DC?


We had long “talk” about these folks. I guess it depends on how broadly you define things. We know they had this unconventional loving family. Who the heck knows beyond that. They are certainly important from a representation point of view because of Wonder Woman and that she represents. I see you have a lot of foot notes explaining why someone is on. Me, I’d add them and footnote it.


I will be watching ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ tonight - it’s available on Hoopla for those that use it (free streaming rental from your library).


Cool. Jump back here or the History Club link or the WAL link. Give us the pronouncement of Agent Leiter


For a much more historically accurate take on the Marstons and the creation of Wonder Woman, I’d highly recommend The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, available in text or audio format.


A fantastic read


The Secret History is one of the strangest real-life stories that lead into the creation of something so marvelous as Wonder Woman. I love the improbable series of events that lead to Marston at DC, and it seems like they had to happen in that way to create a character that still resonates 80 years later, and was definitely an early example of Pride representation in comics. Subtle by today’s standards, but radical at the time.


It wasn’t a best seller for nothing. Great research, good story entertainingly written


Okay, I found a copy of the book online. I need to get back into a little more non-fiction, anyway.

I don’t believe the movie is dishonest in anyway-- just a bit of shorthand to get as much as you can into 1 hr 48 minutes.

By the way, nicely written intro at the top.


Dishonest is not the word I would use, fictionalized probably more accurate


That’s probably accurate. Is the movie Hidden Figures heavily fictionalized? You betcha. Is the point hammered home pretty well anyway? Yea, I’d say so. Same thing here.

For the most part, society should not decide what love is for us. We decide that for ourselves.


I object more to the movie not giving Liz more direct credit for creating Wonder Woman than the relationship part


Perception isn’t reality, after all.


Besides the movie WAL
And the DC History Club
On the Golden Age Wonder Woman:

if you want to learn how Superman Batman.and Wonder Woman were created