Portrait of an Icon: 8 Books About Marilyn Monroe

We reflect on the actress' troubled but extraordinary life.

Books About Marilyn Monroe
Buy Marilyn at Amazon


By Gloria Steinem

Before she was Marilyn Monroe, she was simply Norma Jeane. Feminist-journalist Gloria Steinem strips away the glitz and glamour, revealing the forgotten years that shaped a Hollywood icon: an absent father, a schizophrenic mother, a childhood spent in foster care. Rather than attributing the star’s success to her physical appearance, Steinem points to these early experiences of young Norma Jeane, which shaped her into the charismatic, complex woman we recognize and love.

Buy Goddess at Amazon


By Anthony Summers

Considered one of the definitive Monroe biographies, Goddess is dense, thoroughly researched, and provides a comprehensive view of the icon’s 36 years of life. Drawing from hundreds of interviews, Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Summers addresses all the hot topics—her battle with addiction, her mythologized relationship with JFK—while uncovering hidden nuggets of information and insight.   

Buy My Story at Amazon

My Story

By Marilyn Monroe

Here, Monroe tells her story in her own words, providing intimate vignettes of her off-screen life. Though written at the height of her fame, it exposes her insecurities and negative self-perception. Monroe admits she's not the woman we've placed on a pedestal, but “the kind of girl they found dead in the hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand.” Lonely but vivacious, intelligent but confused—this is who Marilyn saw when she looked in the mirror.

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Buy Blonde at Amazon


By Joyce Carol Oates

Part of Marilyn’s appeal has always been the mystery that surrounds her. Despite Monroe's popular memoir, there remains a sense of stories forgotten and untold. This National Book Award finalist tries to fill in the blanks by assuming “Marilyn’s point of view” and providing a fictionalized narrative of her life. In Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates expands on our pre-existing knowledge of starlet to paint a powerful portrait of a woman lost in the spotlight. 

Buy Fragments at Amazon


By Marilyn Monroe

As one of the most photographed people in history, it seems like there would be few, if any, that we have not seen. But Fragments, published decades after her death, showcases a rare collection of Monroe's private pictures. It's also filled with snapshots of a different sort: personal letters, poems, and notes—all written by her own hand.

Buy My Week with Marilyn at Amazon

My Week with Marilyn

By Colin Clark

Colin Clark was 23 when he landed a gig on the set of the Monroe-starring The Prince and the Showgirl. As an assistant, he got a front row seat to one of the most tumultuous director-actress collaborations in film history. In his previously unpublished journals, Clark chronicles the on-set dramas—as Monroe’s erratic behavior and tardiness clashed with director Lawrence Olivier’s obsession with punctuality and professionalism. Clark also describes the seven days he spent as Marilyn’s personal escort, and how he came to see her less as “Marilyn, the star,” but “Marilyn, the woman.”

Buy My Sister Marilyn at Amazon

My Sister Marilyn

By Berniece Miracle

Berniece Miracle did not know Marilyn Monroe—but she did know the girl who came before, Norma Jeane. Born seven years apart, the girls were half-sisters who were separated long before the diagnosis that would send Marilyn into foster care. Only years later did Berniece, well into her teens, and 12-year-old Marilyn meet. In her memoir, Berniece reflects on the years that preceded and followed their reunion, showing us a side of Marilyn we haven't seen before: a compassionate and devoted family woman.

Buy The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe at Amazon

The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe

By Donald H. Wolfe

Marilyn Monroe’s death has always been shrouded in secrecy and conspiracy theories, with many fingers pointing to the Kennedy administration. Over the course of seven years, Donald H. Wolfe investigates these allegations—which range from an accidental overdose to premeditated murder—and the mysteries of her final days. Wolfe's conclusion? Homicide.  

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Published on 4 Aug 2017