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Jill Lepore wins the New-York Historical Society’s Annual American History Book Prize for The Secret History of Wonder Woman

$50,000 Prize and Title of American Historian Laureate to Be Presented at Weekend with History Gala, Friday, April 17, 2015

New York, NY, February 17, 2015—Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, announced today that historian Jill Lepore will receive New-York Historical’s annual American History Book Prize for The Secret History of Wonder Woman (New York: Knopf, 2014). She will be presented with a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal and the title of American Historian Laureate on April 17, 2015, during a black-tie dinner celebrating New-York Historical's tenth annual Chairman's Council Weekend with History event.

Stated Dr. Mirrer: “Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a beautifully-written and astonishing history of 20th-century American feminism. Offering eye-opening insight into the influence of early feminists such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Margaret Sanger, and her more radical sister, Ethel Bryne on the development of the comic book character, the book pushes forward the frontiers of knowledge around the story of women’s rights as it retrieves crucial, but forgotten history. Lepore’s portrayal of “hot-button” issues from decades ago, such as birth control, marriage and the family, and the balance between women’s lives at home and in the workplace brings into sharp relief the lessons to be learned today from history’s most popular female superhero.”

Considered a favorite of the year by a prize committee comprised of historians and New-York Historical leadership, The Secret History of Wonder Woman was selected from a field of 132 submissions.

The American History Book Prize was previously awarded to Doris Kearns Goodwin for Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; David Nasaw for Andrew Carnegie; Daniel Walker Howe for What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848; Drew Gilpin Faust for This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War; Gordon S. Wood for Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815; Ron Chernow for George Washington: A Life; John Lewis Gaddis for George F. Kennan: An American Life; Robert Caro for Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power; and Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy for The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire.

"Without question, it’s the most original . . . entry this year, and has all of Jill’s brio and style," stated one judge. The remarkable story of Wonder Woman’s birth and the complex brew of forces and aspirations she embodied is the subject of Jill Lepore’s brilliant book. Based on solid archival research, The Secret History of Wonder Woman exemplifies the very best in historical recreation. Focused on the strange life and career of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Marston, the book traces the complex web of people and situations that went into the making of this singularly potent superheroine. The genius of Lepore’s narrative, however, is its ability to locate the particulars of Marston’s life and creation into the larger story of the struggle for women’s rights in the 20th century. Lepore has produced a masterful and thought-provoking portrait of a cultural icon who transcends her place in a gallery of fantasies.
“I’m thrilled and delighted,” Lepore said. “This was incredibly fun book to write, and I’m so grateful to the Prize Committee, and to the New-York Historical Society, for honoring it," said Jill Lepore.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. Lepore is the author of eight books, including a trilogy that constitutes a political history of early America: The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (Knopf, 1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, and the Berkshire Prize; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Knopf, 2005), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best nonfiction book on race and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf, 2013), Time magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, winner of the Mark Lynton Prize and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The Chairman's Council is comprised of New-York Historical's most committed supporters. Individuals may be invited to join the Council by New-York Historical Trustees and senior staff and by existing members of the Council. Annual dues are $5,000 (Member), $10,000 (Vice Chair), and $25,000 (Co-Chair). For more information on Weekend with History or the Chairman's Council, please contact Elaine Pulk at (212) 485-9221 or elaine.pulk @nyhistory.org.

Friday, April 17, and Saturday, April 18, 2015

UPS Foundation Professor,
School for Advanced Study


Archaeologist and Documentarian

President and CEO, Aspen Institute

Stephen and Madeline Anbinder
Professor of History, Cornell University


Editor, Foreign Affairs

Chief Washington Correspondent
The New York Times

Former President of the Board,
Phillips Academy at Andover


Historian and Author


Malcolm Stevenson Forbes
Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs,
Princeton University

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America's pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Drawn by New York: Six Centuries of Watercolors and Drawings at the New-York Historical Society; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Lincoln and New York; Nueva York (1613 – 1945); WWII & NYC; and The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world's greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York. Exhibitions on view this Spring at New-York Historical include Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein; the conclusion of the acclaimed trilogy Audubon’s Aviary: The Final Flight (Part III of the Complete Flock); Lincoln and the Jews, which focuses on Abraham Lincoln’s little-known connections to the Jewish community; Raising the Curtain: Picasso's Painting for the Ballet Le Tricorne, the debut of the newly acquired and conserved masterpiece; The Hirschfeld Century: An Al Hirschfeld Retrospective, which showcases the iconic caricaturist’s nine-decade career documenting the performing arts of the 20th century; and Lafayette’s Hermione: Voyage 2015, which highlights the French General’s support of the American Revolution. For exhibition dates and more information, visit www.nyhistory.org/exhibitions/future-exhibitions.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Creative: Tronvig Group