There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Marilyn Monroe books published covering an array of topics. Her life, her death, movies, relationships and more. Of course, some are more reliable than others and the one question I am often asked is which book is the best. I have read only a handful of these books but I have it on good authority that these books are worthwhile. A quick thanks to my fantastic Marilyn buddies who have been fans for decades and recommended most of these to me!
Admittedly, there is no one book that is 100% perfect. Some facts, dates, names, and places can get muddled, and it’s usually simple human error or lack of resources (which I will go into shortly) which can prevent a book from being the Ultimate Marilyn Monroe Bible. But honestly, these little errors are nothing compared to the colossal amount of books entirely based on the testimony of frauds and fakers.
There are a few things I consider when purchasing a Marilyn book:
- When was it written? As time has gone on there has been more access to reliable research therefore it’s easier to fact check. A book written in 1996 for example will be different to a book from 2022 as we now know a lot more information and have access to more data. That’s not to say the older books aren’t as good!
- Who and what are the sources? I often check the sources at the back of the book. If there are only a few sources or they repeatedly contain the names of certain people, I tend to avoid that particular biography. Obviously, a bit trickier when buying online.
- What are the reviews from fellow researchers like? I often ask some of my Marilyn pals their opinions on books I am considering purchasing as many of them read a lot more than I do.
- The number of errors… If a book makes many mistakes on things which can easily be fact checked, I tend to avoid it.
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Below are the books I recommend for any Marilyn fan. Some are more detailed than others, but all are well researched or come from the author’s personal experiences. Again, there’s always the possibility of a few errors but these are the most accurate titles (IMO). Click on the images to purchase!
Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed by Michelle Morgan
This is a wonderfully comprehensive guide to Marilyn’s life with no sensationalism or conspiracy. Sticking to the facts with sources, just how I like it! This biography is succinct, to the point and well-written. Michelle’s writing style makes Marilyn’s life easy to follow and is perfect for any Marilyn fan, new or old.
Icon: The Life, Times, and Films of Marilyn Monroe 1 & 2 by Gary Vitacco-Robles
If you want a much more in-depth biography these two are it. Gary delves into not just the facts of Marilyn’s life but also her films, her psyche and discusses the myths that surround many of the events in her life. Highly detailed and very heavy!
My Story by Marilyn Monroe and Ben Hecht
Ghostwritten by Ben Hecht, this is Marilyn’s story all the way up to 1954. I read this in one night! It’s a small but lovely book detailing, in Marilyn’s own words, her childhood and rise to fame. It genuinely feels as if she is talking to you.
The book wasn’t published until a decade after Marilyn’s death and I’m sure she would’ve had so much more to tell. It’s such a shame we didn’t get the other eight years of her life in this autobiography.
Fragments by Marilyn Monroe
Is there anything more honest than handwritten notes? Some people feel this book is intrusive of Marilyn’s privacy because of the personal content. However, if diaries, journals, letters and notes have taught us anything over history, it’s that these documents provide us with a deeper understanding of people’s mindsets. That’s what Fragments does. It allows us to perceive a more private and “real” side to Marilyn.
My Sister Marilyn by Berniece and Mona Rae Miracle
With the help of her daughter, Mona Rae, Berniece Miracle wrote about the relationship she shared with her half-sister. For years she kept her silence but decided she wanted to share this personal account. This is a side to Marilyn we don’t get to see often and provides a glimpse of what life was like for the sisters who lived in very different worlds. The book DOES have a few errors and mix-ups, but that doesn’t take away from the bond Marilyn and Bernierce shared.
Mimosa by Ralph Roberts
Like My Sister Marilyn, this book encapsulates a personal relationship with Marilyn but this time it’s from her friend and masseuse, Ralph Roberts. Ralph found it hard getting his memories of his time with Marilyn published because his tale wasn’t sensational but to me, there’s nothing more sensational than hearing personal accounts of people’s time with Marilyn.
When Marilyn Met The Queen by Michelle Morgan
You can read my review here.
- Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words by George Barris – Marilyn posed for George Barris in some gorgeous images and he interviewed her for a book which sadly they never got to make together. Barris did so years after her death, sharing some of their conversations.
- Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years by Astrid Franse and Michelle Morgan – Full of beautiful imagery this book discusses Marilyn’s time as a model.
- The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of the Unlikely Feminist by Michelle Morgan – A great account of Marilyn’s time making The Seven Year Itch and her desire to become taken seriously as both a woman and an actor.
- The Biography by Donald Spoto – This one contains a few errors RE her death and some dates are confused, but still a good read!
- Marilyn Monroe Encyclopedia by Adam Victor – Again a few subjects are incorrect but this is a great quick guide when doing research.