Aware of his lack of academic education, Marilyn tried to read as much as possible and in every possible fields.When she met Arthur Miller in 1951, they went together in a bookshop where she bought collections of poems of Frost, E.E. Cummings and Whitman.
During the "Love Happy" roadshow, she withdrew in her hotel room to read Proust and Thomas Wolfe, the Freud writings about the interpretation of dreams. To distract her, she got absorbed in "The Brothers Karamazov" of Dostoïevski.
She was often seen studying with application the anatomy treaty "De Humanis Corporis Favrica" of Vesale (16th Century).
On the set of "All About Eve" she was seen reading the "Letters to a Young Poet" of Rainer Maria Rilke.
She also read "
She also read "The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens" (1866-1936).
It was partly linked to her stay at the Actors Lab, and partly to the influence exerted on her by Natasha Lytess.
Above all she loved the Russian literature she had discovered during her first years of her movie experience.
In 1952 Philip Halsman made a picture session at her home, at the Beverly Carlton Hotel, for the cover picture of Life magazine; he saw many books including the Fabian Society story (an English intellectual socialist movement to which belonged, among others, George Bernard Shaw), Dostoïevski, Freud, Shaw, Steinbeck, Ibsen, Wilde, Zola books and a collection of several Russian novels. He also found many art books about Goya, Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci.
During the shooting of "Niagara" she confided to photographer Jock Carroll her last readings : "The Thinking Body" of Mabel Ellsworth Todd (recommended by Michael Tchekhov),"Letters to a Young Poet" of Rainer Maria Rilke and "The Prophet" of Khalil Gibran.
She loved "The Little Prince" of St Exupéry.
In March 1955 she bought "Ulysse" of James Joyce, "Fallen Angels" of Noël Coward, "Letters to Tony" and "Letters to Mrs Patrick Campbell" of Bernard Shaw, and the biography of Gertrude Lawrence by her husband Richard Aldrich.
When she met for the first time the English poetess Edith Sitwell, they talked about what she read at that time, "Course of My Life" of Rudolf Steiner, and when Marilyn visited her in England, they talked about Dylan
In 1961 she read many books about psychiatry and psychoanalysis. During her 3 weeks stay at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, she spent her insomnia nights reading Freud's correspondance: she also read the biography of Sean O'Casey.
Joan Greenson offered her a child book "The Little Engine That Could" .
SELECTIVE LIST OF BOOKS READ BY MARILYN
About the actor profession
- "Biography of Eleanor Duse" of William Weaver
- "An Actor Prepares" of Stanislavski
- "How Stanislavski Directs" of Michael Gorchakov
- "To the Actor" of Michael Tchekhov.
Fiction and poetry
- "Look Homeward, Angel" of Thomas Wolfe
- "Swann's Way" of Marcel Proust
- "The Stranger" of Albert Camus
- "Leaves of Grass" of Walt Whitman
- "The Brothers Karamazov" of Dostoïevski
- "War and Peace" of Tolstoï
- "Life Among the Savages" of Shirley Jackson
- "Magnificent Obsession" of Lloyd Douglas
- "The Little Prince" of Antoine de St Exupéry
- «The Trial" of Franz Kafka
- " The Prophet" of Khalil Gibran
- " Ulysse" of James Joyce
- "The Old Man and the Sea" of Ernest Hemingway.
Documentaries and stories
- "Abraham Lincoln" (vol. 1 to 6) of Carl Sandburg
- "Autobiography" of Rudolf Steiner
- "The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens"
- "Rights of Man" of Thomas Paine
- "Essays" of Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "Letters to Ellen Terry" of George Bernard Shaw
- "Letters to a Young Poet" of Rainer Maria Rilke.
Psychology and auto analysis
- "The Importance of Living" of Lin Yu-Tang
- "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" of Sigmund Freud
- "Your Key to Happiness" of Harold Sherman.
- "The Holy Bible"
- "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" of Mary Baker Eddy, 1875.