Marilyn Monroe owned several first edition John Steinbeck novels. For April, Patreon members of The Vintage Book Club voted to read Steinbeck’s The Short Reign of Pippin IV, a satirical work about a man who travels back in time to the French Revolution with his daughter. The book is available to read online for here, and at the end of the month I will do a review.

Today, I wanted to share three first edition books written by Steinbeck that Marilyn Monroe owned. What was it about this author that she liked? And what drew her to these particular novels? These are questions I will be thinking about as I do my reading for this month.

3 First Edition John Steinbeck Novels Marilyn Monroe Owned

  1. The Short Reign of Pippin IV

    Overview from Goodreads:

    “Steinbeck’s only work of political satire turns the French Revolution on its head, as amateur astronomer Pippin Heristal is drafted in to rule the unruly French. Enchanting comedy ensues as Steinbeck creates the most hilarious royal court ever around the brief, bold reign of the corduroy-clad Pippin, his social-climbing wife Maria, his star-struck daughter Clotilde and her Californian beau, Todd.”
Same edition of John Steinbeck novel The Short Reign of Pippin IV that Marilyn Monroe owned
Book from my personal collection

2. Tortilla Flat

Overview from Goodreads:

“Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a “Camelot” on a shabby hillside above the town of Monterey, California and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. At the center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur’s castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. These “knights” are paisanos, men of mixed heritage, whose ancestors settled California hundreds of years before. Free of ties to jobs and other complications of the American way of life, they fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil in the surrounding ocean of civil rectitude.As Steinbeck chronicles their deeds–their multiple loves, their wonderful brawls, their Rabelaisian wine-drinking–he spins a tale as compelling and ultimately as touched by sorrow as the famous legends of the Round Table, which inspired him.”

Photo of Marilyn Monroe’s Copy from Christie’s Auction

3. Once There Was a War

“In 1943 John Steinbeck was on assignment for The New York Herald Tribune, writing from Italy and North Africa, and from England in the midst of the London blitz. In his dispatches he focuses on the human-scale effect of the war, portraying everyone from the guys in a bomber crew to Bob Hope on his USO tour and even fighting alongside soldiers behind enemy lines. Taken together, these writings create an indelible portrait of life in wartime.”

Photo of Marilyn Monroe’s Copy from Christie’s Auction

The Short Reign of Pippin IV is the first Steinbeck Novel that The Vintage Book Club has read. If you would like the chance to vote for next month’s book, join the become a member of The Vintage Book Club on Patreon. Memberships start at just $1.


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