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Blonde is a bestselling 2000 historical novel by Joyce Carol Oates that chronicles the inner life of Marilyn Monroe. Oates insists that the novel is a work of fiction that should not be regarded as a biography. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (2001) and the National Book Award (2000).[1] Rocky Mountain News and Entertainment Weekly have listed Blonde as one of Joyce Carol Oates's best books.[2][3] Oates has said that Blonde is one of the two books (along with 1969's them) for which she thinks she will be remembered.[4]

First edition cover
AuthorJoyce Carol Oates
CountryUnited States
GenreHistorical novel
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages738 pp


Length and editingEdit

At over 700 pages, Blonde is one of Oates' longest works of fiction. In an interview she said, "I intended it to be a novella, somewhere around 175 pages, and the last words would have been 'Marilyn Monroe.' But over time, I got so caught up in her world that I couldn't stop there. The final result was this book. The first draft was, originally, longer than the version that was finally published. Some sections were shortened while others had to be surgically removed from the book. Those sections will be published separately."[5]


Although many notable names are changed, Oates sometimes uses recognizable initials, such as "C"—a male co-star of Some Like It Hot (presumably Tony Curtis) and more controversially, "R.F"—the commander of the Sharpshooter sent to eliminate Monroe. Many conspiracy theories have suggested that Robert F. Kennedy, United States Attorney General and brother of President John F. Kennedy, was involved in Monroe's death,[6] following her alleged affairs with each of the brothers. The novel explores only a relationship with the President.

In Blonde, Monroe's husbands Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller are referred to as the Ex-athlete and the Playwright, respectively. Their actual names are never mentioned. James Dougherty, Monroe's first husband, is referred to by the pseudonym Bucky Glazer.


In 2001, the novel was adapted into a CBS mini-series of the same name, which followed the novel closely. The New York Times reported that "Often the director read the scene in the novel just before shooting it."[7] The mini-series departed from the novel in leaving out the idea (which Oates discusses at length) that Monroe may have been assassinated.[7]

A film adaptation of the novel was under discussion in 2014, to be written and directed by Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik. American actress Jessica Chastain was in talks to portray Marilyn Monroe.[8]


  1. ^ National Book Review Preview: Archived May 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine November 04, 2000
  2. ^ Davis, Duane. "Joyce Carol Oates for dummies", "Where to start", "Onto the novels" (series of articles), The Rocky Mountain News, 2003-06-13. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  3. ^ "Book News: Daily Oates Consumption", Entertainment Weekly, 2007-07-06. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  4. ^ "Off the Page: Joyce Carol Oates", The Washington Post, 2003-10-24. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  5. ^ Oates, Joyce Carol. The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art. New York: Ecco, 2003.
  6. ^ FBI file links Kennedy to Monroe's death - World -
  7. ^ a b Nichols, Peter M. "Inventing Marilyn, But Not From Scratch", The New York Times, 2001-05-13. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  8. ^ Adam Chitwood, "Jessica Chastain to Play Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s BLONDE", The Wrap, April 22, 2014