Elizabeth Holloway Marston (February 20, 1893 - March 27, 1993) was the wife Dr. William Moulton Marston, who she advised in his of creation of Wonder Woman. She was a psychologist and a lawyer, and was also involved in the development of the systolic blood-pressure test, which was used to develop the polygraph.

Early Life and Education[edit | edit source]

Marston was born on the Isle of Man and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She earned her B.A. in psychology from Mount Holyoke University in 1915. By the time she graduated, she was engaged to William, a Harvard psychology student. He went on to Harvard Law School; she decided that she too would like a law degree. However, Harvard did not admit women and her father refused to pay, wanting her to stay home and learn to be a domestic. Instead, she sold cookbooks to local ladies' clubs to earn the tuition to Boston University School of Law.

Though Elizabeth and William married that September, she paid her own way all the way through law school. They both graduated in 1918; she was one of only three women to graduate from Boston University Law that year. She later recounted how she finished the bar exam "in nothing flat," and had to wait on the steps for him to finish. He then decided to pursue his Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard, but again, Elizabeth's own ambitions were hindered by institutionalized sexism. The Harvard Ph.D. program was closed to women, and she was only able to pursue her M.A. at Harvard's sister Radcliffe College

She earned her M.A. in 1921, after collaborating with William on his dissertation regarding the correlation between blood pressure and deception. William later developed that research into the systolic blood pressure test, leading to the development of the polygraph. Though not officially listed as his collaborator, many contemporary and historical sources refer directly or indirectly to her involvement.

Career and Family[edit | edit source]

Marston continued to work well after getting married, which was highly unusual for the time; for example, her contemporaries needed their husband's permission to work merely as telephone operators. William had a high regard for women, believing them to be on the whole cleverer and more trustworthy than men, and his relationship with Elizabeth reflected his feminism. She indexed the documents of the first fourteen Congresses, lectured on law, ethics, and psychology at American and New York Universities, and served as an editor for Encyclopedia Britannica and McCall's magazine. In 1933, she became the assistant to the Chief Executive of Metropolitan Life Insurance, a position she held until she was 65.

She and William lived in a polyamorous relationship with a former student of his, named Olive Byrne. Byrne had two children by William, named Byrne and Donn, who were legally adopted by the Marstons. Marston had her first child at 35, Pete, followed by Olive Ann a few years later. Olive stayed home and raised the children, while the Marstons (and after William's death, Elizabeth alone) supported the whole family, including all four children's college and graduate educations.

By 1941, William had been hired as an educational consultant for National Periodicals and All-American Publications (which would later merge to form DC Comics). He had an idea for a new kind of superhero who would fight more with love than with violence. Elizabeth famously responded, "Fine, but make her a woman." Olive, and to a lesser extent, Elizabeth were both models for Wonder Woman.

William dedicated the last six years of his life to Wonder Woman, passing away in 1947. Elizabeth and Olive continued to live together, with Elizabeth supporting Olive until the latter's death in the 1980s. Elizabeth herself lived to be 100 years old, passing away in 1993.

Sources[edit | edit source]

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FAG-icon.png View Elizabeth Holloway Marston's memorial at Find-A-Grave.

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