The 15-year-old who grew up to be Marilyn Monroe: Rare high school photo

With her mouse-brown curls and shy grin, the pretty girl in the seventh row of the black and white school photo bears little resemblance to the pouting blonde bombshell she would become.

But she does have a glint in her eye that suggests she knew she was heading for greater things.

In 1941, when the class photograph was taken, the future Marilyn Monroe was Norma Jeane Baker; just another pupil at Ralph Wardo Emerson Junior High School in Los Angeles.

Can you spot her? Norma Jeane Baker appears in this 1941 Ralph Wardo Emerson Junior High School class photograph. The 15-year-old was just a shy brunette at the Los Angeles school. She would go onm to become Marilyn Monroe - the most famous female screen star of the twentieth century

With curly brown hair and a shy grin, Norma Jeane Baker is far from the spotlight in this old school photo, which auction house Bonhams expect to sell for around £7,000

The photograph, which is to be auctioned next month, bears an inscription on the back by the then 15-year-old Norma Jeane, dedicating it to a classmate of hers named George, a friend she describes as a 'super swell fellow'.

On the back of the 24-inch print the future film star wrote: 'To "Georgie". A super, swell fellow, in fact really keen! (I really mean it Geo.) Norma Jeane Baker.'

The black and white photo, which is now being sold by a private collector, is expected to sell for $9,000 (£5,900) when it is auctioned by Bonhams in Los Angeles on May 5.

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It was taken in the summer of 1941, a year before Monroe married her neighbour's son, Jim Dougherty, in a bid to avoid having to go into care when her guardians moved away.

She signed with 20th Century Fox in 1945, Columbia Pictures in 1948, and by 1952 was being described by Life magazine as 'the talk of Hollywood'.

The 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, featuring her famous rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, cemented Marilyn Monroe's celebrity, and smash hit soon followed smash hit.

Norma Jeane Baker was just another pretty student at the high school in Los Angeles in the summer of 1941 - a decade later she was well on her way to global stardom

Lucy Carr, a specialist in entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said: 'Marilyn had a famously difficult childhood and the period this photograph captures, when she was living with family friend Ana Lower, was one of the few times of stability and relative happiness in her early life.

'Her childlike appearance in this photograph is quite different than the platinum blonde bombshell image she would become known for.

'Photographs signed by Marilyn as Norma Jeane Baker are quite rare and sought after by collectors, and only a few other signed examples of this Junior High School class photograph have ever come to auction.'

She added: 'A variety of collectors are interested in Marilyn Monroe. Her appeal continues to grow and truly spans the globe.

'In the past, we have received bids on Marilyn Monroe memorabilia from clients in the US, Europe and Asia, as well as South America and the Middle East.'

Marilyn Monroe, as she became early on in her career, became a sought-after actress and appeared in hits including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot