Marilyn ​Monroe. Her very name hints at promise and excitement. She was almost too much – just too beautiful, her face a mask of make-up, her body too provocative, her white skirt flying up around her thighs in a sudden gust of air. With her mouth half-open and her eyes half-closed she is frozen in time, the very anticipation of pleasure.

So much for the stereotype that has already travelled around the world several times – no doubt there is a lot more mileage in it.

Yet there is so much more to see and to learn about than this overused, overworked, and depressingly vulgar cliché. Another face needs to be revealed, the one behind the mask, bare of make-up, fragile, exposed and moving. Look carefully and you will glimpse a very different Marilyn, the one left behind when the glamorous mask fell and the woman within shone through: a complex woman and a born artist.

Marilyn Monroe: A Life in Pictures pays tribute to a Marilyn far removed from the famous construct, from the knee-jerk film-star poses, the commercial, staged images at which she was so adept. The 150 original or unpublished images in this book are the result of ambitious research, selected with the aim of casting a fresh light on the life of this unique star and revealing her moving humanity. The search was for the real Marilyn, not the sex symbol illusion.

If this book succeeds in conveying the extraordinary vitality that emanated from young Norma Jean, despite her flaws and the tragedies that befell her, if it manages to portray the extraordinary light that radiated from her and illuminated her beauty from within, if it finally puts an end to the image of the peroxide doll and little-girl-lost, and instead reveals her as an intelligent, headstrong, talented and generous woman, then it will have made a small contribution to her memory and reputation.

But we have said enough. Let these images of Marilyn say the rest.

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