Olive Byrne

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Olive Byrne
Born Mary Olive Byrne[1]
(1904-02-19)February 19, 1904[2]
Steuben County, New York, U.S.
Died May 19, 1985(1985-05-19) (aged 81)[2]
Tampa, Florida, U.S.[2]
Nationality American
Other names Olive Richard (pen name)
Occupation Writer
Known for Involvement in the creation of Wonder Woman
Partner(s) Elizabeth Holloway Marston
William Moulton Marston
Children Byrne Marston and Donald Richard Marston
Parent(s) Ethel Byrne (mother)
Relatives Margaret Sanger (aunt)

Mary Olive Byrne (/bɜːrn/), known professionally as Olive Richard (February 19, 1904 – May 19, 1985),[3] was an American homemaker and polyamorous life partner of William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston. She has been credited as an inspiration for the comic book character, Wonder Woman.


Olive Byrne and the Marstons met in 1925 while she was a senior attending Tufts University. William was her psychology professor, and she soon became his research assistant, even taking him to her sorority to do some of his research. She was instrumental in introducing him to the world of sorority baby parties (in which freshmen girls are required to dress like babies and are treated like children[4]), at which he performed some of his experiments on human reactions to power.[5]

Byrne was the daughter of Ethel Byrne, who famously opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States with her sister Margaret Sanger.[3]


Byrne was involved with William and Elizabeth Marston in a polyamorous relationship. The three lived together for a number of years. Both women had Marston's children while the three were together, and Elizabeth named her daughter Olive after Byrne. Byrne and Elizabeth Marston continued living together while raising both of their children after William's death.[6]

Both Byrne and Elizabeth "embodied the feminism of the day."[7] They told census takers that Olive was Elizabeth's widowed sister-in-law.[8] Olive and Marston had two sons together, Byrne and Donn.[citation needed]

Wonder Woman[edit]

As reported by Jill Lepore in the book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Olive has been credited by some as being Marston's inspiration.[5][9] for the physical appearance of his iconic character, Wonder Woman,[10] Marston himself only remarked that a pair of bracelets that Byrne frequently wore inspired the ones that would become an important feature of the comic book heroine.[citation needed]

In film[edit]

Byrne's life is depicted in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a biographical drama also portraying Elizabeth Holloway Marston, her husband William Moulton Marston, and the creation of Wonder Woman.[11] Byrne is portrayed in the film by Australian actress Bella Heathcote.[12]


  1. ^ "Ancestry Library Edition". Search.ancestrylibrary.com. Retrieved 18 April 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c "Olive Byrne Richard". findagrave.com. Retrieved February 23, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Lepore, Jill (October 2014). "The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman". Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2017. 
  4. ^ Marston, William Moulton, Emotions of Normal People, as quoted in Noah Berlatsky, "William Marston on Sorority Baby Parties", Hooded Utilitarian, May 6, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Lepore, Jill (2014). The Secret History of Wonder Woman. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 9780385354042. 
  6. ^ Marston, Christie (October 20, 2017). "What 'Professor Marston' Misses About Wonder Woman's Origins (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 21, 2017. 
  7. ^ Tim Hanley, Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine, Chicago Review Press, 2014, pg. 12.
  8. ^ Lepore, Jill (October 2014). "The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman". Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  9. ^ Moon, Michael (2012-03-12). Darger’s Resources. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822351560. 
  10. ^ Daniels, Les (2000). Wonder Woman: The complete History. Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-2913-8. 
  11. ^ "Wonder Woman creator biopic gets mysterious first teaser", ew.com, June 5, 2017.
  12. ^ 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 Hollywood. Retrieved September 15, 2017. 

External links[edit]