Books About Marilyn

Marilyn herself was very much a reader!

There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis

Just like you swore to me that you'd be true

There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis

But he's a liar and I'm not sure about you...


Kirsty MacColl - Chip Shop 1981

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Reading has always been a huge part of my life – from an extremely young age I read the classics – I can remember being as young as 8 or 9 and reading Wuthering Heights, in fact I may have been younger but the point is reading opens up the world and broadens horizons – gives inspiration and knowledge and is worth every moment you dedicate to it! However – that doesn’t mean that the written word is always accurate, honest or worth remembering but even if you do read ‘trash’ occasionally it does give you a place to evaluate and make informed choices and decisions.  

This brings me to the importance of this section of Loving Marilyn – books about Marilyn Monroe!  

As discussed in ‘About Marilyn’ books on Marilyn may not be accurate, as everyone sees absolutely everything from a different perspective. Some authors may leave out important detail, others may embellish and sensationalise – some members of the general reading public want to read the ‘true facts’ some want to read about scandal and gossip regardless of truth. Each one of us present a chosen ‘image’ to the world and Marilyn was no different in that respect – choosing carefully the information she herself would feed to the public either directly, via agents, journalists or authors etc. 

However, with a great deal of reading we can form our own opinions and decide for ourselves what shape ‘our Marilyn’ will take. The journey to finding our own Marilyn is an interesting, colourful, fun and intriguing journey, with many twists in the path. The majority of us did not know Marilyn in life but by reading as much about her as we possibly can, there is potential to get to know her, to maybe understand her a little bit better.  

When I first started reading about Marilyn in earnest (beyond photography books and snippets) I began at the library! As a child the only books I owned were gifts, other than that I spent an amazing amount of time at the library reading! Eventually, as I got older I started to buy and collect Marilyn books/magazines. 

Even today I rarely buy a Marilyn book brand new – I search charity shops and second hand book shops and friends and family will often look for me too! There are exceptions of course, and I have spent money buying new books but I cherish my charity shop finds just as much as my brand new books!

As I have built up my collection over time there has been only one book that I have  actually thrown away! That book was Anthony Summers biography 'Goddess - The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe' The reason behind this decision was that when I bought the book new in 1985, I had no idea that it contained a photograph of Marilyn in death, after her autopsy - in those days I liked to savour the experience of a new book and read from the front without flicking through - I didn't want to look at the pictures until I arrived at them during the course of my reading journey - so I was almost through to the end of the book before I discovered, what was for me, a distressing and painful photograph. After a blitz of emotions I felt angry with Summers - in my opinion it was not necessary to publish that photo, it was an intrusion of privacy and Marilyn could have no say in the matter. About a year ago I was offered the opportunity to see another photograph of Marilyn pre-autopsy. I debated whether or not I should accept this offer, and made the decision that I would. Before confronting the image I was actually nervous - looking on someone after their death is not a right, it's a privilege.

When I finally did confront the image - my anger with Summers actually increased - he had chosen to publish a photograph of Marilyn ravaged by the autopsy - the photograph in front me that I was now looking upon was absolutely beautiful. Marilyn looked at peace, serene and graceful, a vision of perfection - she looked so much younger than her 36 years - she looked like a sleeping angel.

Twenty-three years later, my daughter brought a book for me, she was so excited as she knew it wasn't in my collection - she had brought me Anthony Summer's book! This time, I have re-instated it on my book shelf, partly because it was a gift from my daughter and also, because it is after all a book about Marilyn and I can now see past the autopsy photograph, the shock has dulled over time and my memory of Marilyn in death is now of a beautiful sleeping angel.

I believe there are over 500 books available on Marilyn - I probably own somewhere in the region of 100 - but it is ever increasing! I will only review books that I have read and own - reviews will be very short summaries as I think it's much more fun to read the book that to read a lengthy opinion of it! I wont be starting in any particular order. Please check back regularly as this page will be updated frequently!

Please click on the link to take you to the review page