A Look Inside Marilyn Monroe’s Personal Library

marilyn's library

When Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe died in August, 1962, she left behind a lot of bro­ken hearts and some good books. Once mar­ried to play­wright Arthur Miller, Mon­roe stocked about 400 books on her shelves, many of which were lat­er cat­a­logued and auc­tioned off by Christie’s in New York City. A quick scan of the titles in the auc­tion cat­a­logue reveals one thing: The image Mon­roe pro­ject­ed in her pri­vate life hard­ly squared with the “dumb blonde” char­ac­ter that made her famous. Over at Library­Thing, you can sort through 262 books in Mon­roe’s col­lec­tion, which includ­ed no short­age of great lit­er­ary works — every­thing from Invis­i­ble Man by Ralph Elli­son, to Ulysses by James Joyce, to Crime And Pun­ish­ment by Fyo­dor Dos­to­evsky and The Plays Of Anton Chekhov. Woody Guthrie’s Bound For Glo­ry, a work that inspired Bob Dylan and oth­er trou­ba­dours, shared shelf space with The Roots Of Amer­i­can Com­mu­nism by Theodore Drap­er, still con­sid­ered the defin­i­tive his­to­ry of the Amer­i­can Com­mu­nist Par­ty. But along­side the heady texts of Freud, Proust and Bertrand Rus­sell, there were the more quo­tid­i­an texts that may … or may not .… reveal some­thing about Mon­roe’s per­son­al life: Pet Tur­tles by Julien Bron­son, Sex­u­al Impo­tence In The Male by Leonard Paul Wer­shub and, of course (like every­one else), Baby & Child Care by Dr. Ben­jamin Spock.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe Reads Joyce’s Ulysses at the Play­ground (1955)

The Har­vard Clas­sics: A Free, Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tion

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe Explains Rel­a­tiv­i­ty to Albert Ein­stein (in a Nico­las Roeg Movie)

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

Find Clas­sics on Our Lists of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.