William Moulton Marston

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William Moulton Marston
Marstonpetermayergaines.jpg
(L to R) Marston, H. G. Peter, Sheldon Mayer and Max Gaines in 1942
Born (1893-05-09)May 9, 1893
Saugus, Massachusetts, United States
Died May 2, 1947(1947-05-02) (aged 53)
Rye, New York, United States
Cause of death Skin cancer
Resting place Ferncliff Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Charles Moulton
Education Harvard University
B.A. 1915
LL.B 1918
PhD 1921 (Psychology)
Occupation Psychologist
Inventor
Writer
Employer American University
Tufts University
Known for Systolic blood-pressure test
Self-help writer
Advocate for women's potentials
Creator of Wonder Woman[1]
Important contributor to DISC
Successor Robert Kanigher
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Holloway Marston
Partner(s) Olive Byrne
Children 5

William Moulton Marston (May 9, 1893 – May 2, 1947), also known by the pen name Charles Moulton (/ˈmltən/), was an American psychologist, inventor of an early prototype of the lie detector, self-help author, and comic book writer who created the character Wonder Woman.[1] Two women, his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and partner Olive Byrne, both greatly influenced Wonder Woman's creation.[1][2][3]

He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.

Biography

Early life and career

Marston was born in the Cliftondale section of Saugus, Massachusetts, the son of Annie Dalton (née Moulton) and Frederick William Marston.[4][5] Marston was educated at Harvard University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and receiving his B.A. in 1915, an LL.B. in 1918, and a PhD in Psychology in 1921. After teaching at American University in Washington, D.C., and Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, Marston traveled to Universal Studios in California in 1929, where he spent a year as Director of Public Services.

William Marston (right) in 1922, testing his lie detector invention

Marston lived in an extended relationship with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne, both of whom "embodied the feminism of the day."[6]

Psychologist and inventor

Marston was the creator of the systolic blood pressure test, which became one component of the modern polygraph invented by John Augustus Larson in Berkeley, California. Marston's wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston suggested a connection between emotion and blood pressure to William, observing that, "[w]hen she got mad or excited, her blood pressure seemed to climb".[7] Although Elizabeth is not listed as Marston's collaborator in his early work, Lamb, Matte (1996), and others refer directly and indirectly to Elizabeth's own work on her husband's research. She also appears in a picture taken in his laboratory in the 1920s (reproduced by Marston, 1938).[8][9] Marston set out to commercialize Larson's invention of the polygraph when he subsequently embarked on a career in entertainment and comic book writing and appeared as a salesman in ads for Gillette Razors, using a polygraph motif.

From his psychological work, Marston became convinced that women were more honest than men in certain situations and could work faster and more accurately. During his lifetime Marston championed the latent abilities and causes of the women of his day.

Marston was also a writer of essays in popular psychology. In 1928 he published Emotions of Normal People, which elaborated the DISC Theory. Marston viewed people behaving along two axes, with their attention being either passive or active, depending on the individual's perception of his or her environment as either favorable or antagonistic. By placing the axes at right angles, four quadrants form with each describing a behavioral pattern:

  • Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
  • Inducement produces activity in a favorable environment
  • Submission produces passivity in a favorable environment
  • Compliance produces passivity in an antagonistic environment.

Marston posited that there is a masculine notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent and an opposing feminine notion based on "Love Allure" that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority. In 1929, he wrote on the blossoming Men's Rights Movement as a newspaper columnist.[10]

Wonder Woman

Creation

On October 25, 1940, an interview conducted by former student Olive Byrne (under the pseudonym "Olive Richard") was published in The Family Circle (titled "Don't Laugh at the Comics"), in which Marston said that he saw "great educational potential" in comic books. (A follow-up article was published two years later in 1942.[11]) The interview caught the attention of comics publisher Max Gaines, who hired Marston as an educational consultant for National Periodicals and All-American Publications, two of the companies that would later merge to form DC Comics.

In the early 1940s, the DC Comics line was dominated by superpower-endowed male characters such as the Green Lantern and Superman (its flagship character), as well as Batman, with his high-tech gadgets. According to the Fall 2001 issue of the Boston University alumni magazine, it was the idea of Marston's wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, to create a female superhero. Marston recommended an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would conquer not with fists or firepower, but with love. "Fine," said Elizabeth. "but make her a woman."[12][13]

Marston introduced the idea to Max Gaines, co-founder with Jack Liebowitz of All-American Publications. Given the go-ahead, Marston developed Wonder Woman, basing her character on the unconventional, liberated, powerful modern women of his day.[1][14] Marston's pseudonym, Charles Moulton, combined his own and Gaines's middle names.

In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."

In 2017, a majority of Marston's personal papers arrived at the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; this collection helps to tell the backstory of "Wonder Woman," including his unorthodox personal life with two idealistic and strong women, Olive Byrne and Elizabeth Marston, with a connection to Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. (Collen Walsh (2017). "The Life Behind Wonder Woman." "Harvard Gazette." September 7, 2017)

Development

Marston's character was a native of an all-female utopia of Amazons who became a crime-fighting U.S. government agent, using her superhuman strength and agility, and her ability to force villains to submit and tell the truth by binding them with her magic lasso.[15] Her appearance was believed by some[who?] to be based somewhat on Olive Byrne, and her heavy bronze bracelets (which she used to deflect bullets) were inspired by the jewelry bracelets worn by Byrne.[citation needed]

After her name "Suprema" was replaced with "Wonder Woman," which was a popular term at the time that described women who were exceptionally gifted, the character made her debut in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941. Wonder Woman next appeared in Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942), and six months later, Wonder Woman #1 debuted.[15] Except for four months in 1986, the series has been in print ever since. The stories were initially written by Marston and illustrated by newspaper artist Harry Peter. During his life Marston had written many articles and books on various psychological topics, but his last six years of writing were devoted to his comics creation.

Much of his creation of Wonder Woman's world was composed of allegories of his theories and the happenings in his own life. Wonder Woman herself was an allegory for Marston's ideal concept of a "love leader".

William Moulton Marston died of cancer on May 2, 1947, in Rye, New York, seven days shy of his 54th birthday. After his death, Elizabeth and Olive continued to live together until Olive's death in 1990, aged 86; Elizabeth died in 1993, aged 100.[16] In 1985, Marston was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great.[17]

Themes

William Moulton Marston's philosophy of diametric opposites has bled into his design of his Wonder Woman mythology. This theme of diametrics took the form of his emphasis on certain masculine and feminine configurations as well as dominance and submission.

Marston's "Wonder Woman" is an early example of bondage themes that were entering popular culture in the 1930s.[1] Physical and mental submission appears again and again throughout Marston's comics work, with Wonder Woman and her criminal opponents frequently being tied up or otherwise restrained, and her Amazonian sisters engaging in frequent wrestling and bondage play. These elements were softened by later writers of the series, who dropped such characters as the Nazi-like blond female slaver Eviless completely, despite her having formed the original Villainy Inc. of Wonder Woman's enemies (in Wonder Woman #28, the last by Marston.)

Though Marston had described female nature as being more capable of submission emotion, in his other writings and interviews,[citation needed] he referred to submission as a noble practice and did not shy away from the sexual implications, saying:

The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound... Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society... Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.[18]

One of the purposes of these bondage depictions was to induce eroticism in readers as a part of what he called "sex love training." Through his Wonder Woman comics, he aimed to condition readers to becoming more readily accepting of loving submission to loving authorities rather than being so assertive with their own destructive egos.

About male readers, he later wrote: "Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves!"[19]

Marston combined these themes with others, including restorative and transformative justice, rehabilitation, regret and their roles in civilization. These appeared often in his depiction of the near-ideal Amazon civilization of Paradise Island, and especially its Reform Island penal colony, which played a central role in many stories and was the "loving" alternative to retributive justice of the world run by men. These themes are particularly evident in his last story, in which prisoners freed by Eviless, who have responded to Amazon rehabilitation and now have good dominance/submission, stop her and restore the Amazons to power.

Some of these themes continued on in Silver Age characters, who may have been influenced by Marston, notably Saturn Girl and Saturn Queen, who (like Eviless and her female army) are also from Saturn, are also clad in tight, dark red bodysuits, are also blond or red-haired, and also have telepathic powers.[20] Stories involving the latter have been especially focused on the emotions involved in changing sides from evil to good, as were stories from Green Lantern's "Blackest Night" with its Emotional Spectrum which was likely influenced by Marston's research into emotions. Wonder Woman's golden lasso and Venus Girdle in particular were the focus of many of the early stories and have the same capability to reform people for good in the short term that Transformation Island and prolonged wearing of Venus Girdles offered in the longer term. The Venus Girdle was an allegory for Marston's theory of "sex love" training, where people can be "trained" to embrace submission through eroticism.

In film

Marston's life is depicted in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a biographical drama also portraying Elizabeth Holloway Marston, Olive Byrne, and the creation of Wonder Woman.[21][22] Dr. Marston is portrayed in the film by Welsh actor Luke Evans.[23]

Bibliography

  • "Systolic blood pressure symptoms of deception and constituent mental states." (Harvard University, 1921) (doctoral dissertation)
  • (1999; originally published 1928) Emotions of Normal People. Taylor & Francis Ltd. ISBN 0-415-21076-3
  • (1930) Walter B. Pitkin & William M. Marston, The Art of Sound Pictures. New York: Appleton.
  • (1931) ''Integrative Psychology: A Study of Unit Response (with C. Daly King, and Elizabeth Holloway Marston).
  • (c. 1932) Venus with us; a tale of the Caesar. New York: Sears.
  • (1936) You can be popular. New York: Home Institute.
  • (1937) Try living. New York: Crowell.
  • (1938) The lie detector test. New York: Smith.
  • (1941) March on! Facing life with courage. New York: Doubleday, Doran.
  • (1943) F.F. Proctor, vaudeville pioneer (with J.H. Feller). New York: Smith.
Journal articles
  • (1917) "Systolic blood pressure symptoms of deception." Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol 2(2), 117–163.
  • (1920) "Reaction time symptoms of deception." Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 72–87.
  • (1921) "Psychological Possibilities in the Deception Tests." Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 11, 551–570.
  • (1923) "Sex Characteristics of Systolic Blood Pressure Behavior." Journal of Experimental Psychology, 6, 387–419.
  • (1924) "Studies in Testimony." Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 15, 5–31.
  • (1924) "A Theory of Emotions and Affection Based Upon Systolic Blood Pressure Studies." American Journal of Psychology, 35, 469–506.
  • (1925) "Negative type reaction-time symptoms of deception." Psychological Review, 32, 241–247.
  • (1926) "The psychonic theory of consciousness." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 21, 161–169.
  • (1927) "Primary emotions." Psychological Review, 34, 336–363.
  • (1927) "Consciousness, motation, and emotion." Psyche, 29, 40–52.
  • (1927) "Primary colors and primary emotions." Psyche, 30, 4–33.
  • (1927) "Motor consciousness as a basis for emotion." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 22, 140–150.
  • (1928) "Materialism, vitalism and psychology." Psyche, 8, 15–34.
  • (1929) "Bodily symptoms of elementary emotions." Psyche, 10, 70–86.
  • (1929) "The psychonic theory of consciousness—an experimental study," (with C.D. King). Psyche, 9, 39–5.
  • (1938) "'You might as well enjoy it.'" Rotarian, 53, No. 3, 22–25.
  • (1938) "What people are for." Rotarian, 53, No. 2, 8–10.
  • (1944) "Why 100,000,000 Americans read comics." The American Scholar, 13 (1), 35–44.
  • (1944) "Women can out-think men!" Ladies Home Journal, 61 (May), 4–5.
  • (1947) "Lie detection's bodily basis and test procedures," in: P.L. Harriman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Psychology, New York, 354–363.
  • Articles "Consciousness," "Defense mechanisms," and "Synapse" in the 1929 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Garner, Dwight (October 23, 2014). "Books – Her Past Unchained 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman,' by Jill Lepore". New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ "BU Alumni Web :: Bostonia :: Fall 2001". Archived from the original on January 4, 2007. 
  3. ^ "OUR TOWNS; She's Behind the Match For That Man of Steel". February 18, 1992. 
  4. ^ Flavin, R. D. (n.d.) The Doctor and the Wonder Women: Love, Lies, and Revisionism. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  5. ^ Harvard Class of 1915 25th Anniversary Report, pp. 480–482.
  6. ^ Tim Hanley, Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine, Chicago Review Press, 2014, p. 12.
  7. ^ (Lamb, 2001)
  8. ^ "The Polygraph and Lie Detection". 
  9. ^ Moore, Mark H. (2003). The Polygraph and Lie Detection. National Academies Press. p. 29. ISBN 0-309-08436-9. 
  10. ^ "Why Men Are Organizing To Fight Female Dominance" October 19, 1929, Hamilton Evening Journal
  11. ^ Richard, Olive. Our Women Are Our Future
  12. ^ Lamb, Marguerite. "Who Was Wonder Woman? Long-Ago LAW Alumna Elizabeth Marston Was the Muse Who Gave Us a Superheroine." Boston University Alumni Magazine, Fall 2001.
  13. ^ Malcolm, Andrew H. "OUR TOWNS; She's Behind the Match For That Man of Steel". The New York Times, Feb. 18, 1992.
  14. ^ Daniels, Les. Wonder Woman: The Complete History, (DC Comics, 2000), pp. 28–30.
  15. ^ a b Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014, ISBN 9780385354042, pages 183–209.
  16. ^ Lepore, Jill (October 2014). "The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman". Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2017. 
  17. ^ Marx, Barry, Cavalieri, Joey and Hill, Thomas (w), Petruccio, Steven (a), Marx, Barry (ed). "William Moulton Marston Wonder Woman's Legend Born" Fifty Who Made DC Great: 17 (1985), DC Comics
  18. ^ Jones, Gerard Men of Tomorrow New York: Basic Books 2004, p. 210
  19. ^ Marston, William Moulton. "Why 100,000,000 Americans Read Comics." The American Scholar 13.1, 1943–44, page 43
  20. ^ "Eviless – Pre-Crisis DC Comics – Villainy Inc – Wonder Woman". Writeups.org. 
  21. ^ Wonder Woman creator biopic gets mysterious first teaser
  22. ^ What that mysterious teaser before 'Wonder Woman' was about
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 15, 2017). "Annapurna To Release MGM’s ‘Death Wish’ Over Thanksgiving; Sets October Date For ‘Professor Marston & The Wonder Women’". Deadline.com. Retrieved September 15, 2017. 

References

  • Biographical entry in Jaques Cattell, (ed.), American Men of Science: A Biographical Directory, Seventh Edition, (Lancaster, 1944), pp. 1173–1174.
  • Brown, Matthew J. "Love Slaves and Wonder Women: Radical Feminism and Social Reform in the Psychology of William Moulton Marston", Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 2(1), (2016): Article 1.
  • Bunn, Geoffrey C. "The Lie Detector,Wonder Woman and Liberty: The Life and Works of William Moulton Marston,", History of the Human Sciences, 10 (1997): 91–119.
  • Daniels, Les, and Chip Kidd. Wonder Woman: A Complete History. (Chronicle Books, 2000); ISBN 0-8118-2913-8
  • Gillespie, Nick. "William Marston's Secret Identity: The strange private life of Wonder Woman's creator." Reason, May 2001.
  • Glen, Joshua. "Wonder-working power." Boston Globe, April 4, 2004.
  • Jett, Brett. "Who Is Wonder Woman?", " (Manuscript) (2009): 1–71.
  • Lamb, Marguerite. "Who Was Wonder Woman? Long-ago LAW alumna Elizabeth Marston was the muse who gave us a superheroine." Boston University, Fall 2001.
  • Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014, ISBN 9780385354042
  • Malcolm, Andrew H."She's Behind the Match For That Man of Steel". New York Times. February 18, 1992.
  • Moore, Mark Harrison. The Polygraph and Lie Detection. Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph (National Research Council, U.S.), 2003.
  • Richard, Olive. "Our Women Are Our Future", (Article), Family Circle, 14 August 1942.
  • Rosenberg, Robin S. "Wonder Woman As Émigré – Why would Wonder Woman leave her idyllic existence on Paradise Island?", (Article) (2010).
  • Valcour, Francinne. "Training "love leaders": William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman and the "new woman" of the 1940s", (Dissertation) (1999): 1–150.
  • Valcour, Francinne. "Manipulating The Messenger: Wonder Woman As An American Female Icon", (Dissertation) (2006): 1–372.

External links

  • William M. Marston on IMDb
  • William Moulton Marston at Find a Grave
  • FBI File of William Moulton Marston
  • Bibliography on the histories of lie detectors
  • William Moulton Marston at the Grand Comics Database
  • William Moulton Marston at the Comic Book DB
  • "Charles Moulton" at the Comic Book DB
Preceded by
None
Wonder Woman writer
1941–1947
Succeeded by
Robert Kanigher
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