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Donna Tartt

Author of The Secret History

16+ Works 43,273 Members 1,508 Reviews 153 Favorited

About the Author

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi on December 23, 1963. She wrote her first novel while attending Bennington College, where she graduated in 1986. The novel, The Secret History, was published in 1992. Her other works include The Little Friend, which won the WH Smith Literary Award in show more 2003, and The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for Best Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2013 and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence for Fiction. In 2014, Time named Tartt among their 100 Most Influential People. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Donna Tartt

Associated Works

True Grit (1968) — Afterword, some editions — 4,367 copies, 212 reviews
The Best American Short Stories 2006 (2006) — Contributor — 550 copies, 7 reviews
National Gallery of Art, Washington (World of Art) (1992) — Introduction — 307 copies
Murder for Love (1996) — Contributor — 93 copies
The Best American Magazine Writing 2001 (2001) — Contributor — 67 copies
Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women (2017) — Contributor — 21 copies
Fairy Tale Review: The Green Issue #2 (2007) — Translator — 18 copies, 1 review
A Portrait of Southern Writers: Photographs (2000) — Contributor — 14 copies
Fairy Tale Review: The Blue Issue (2006) — Contributor — 14 copies
The Goldfinch [2019 film] (2019) — Orginal novel — 13 copies
The Analog Sea Review: Number Four (2022) — Contributor — 4 copies


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Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Tartt, Donna
Legal name
Tartt, Donna Louise
Other names
Tartt, Donna Louise (birth name)
Greenwood, Mississippi, USA
Places of residence
Grenada, Mississippi, USA
University of Mississippi
Bennington College
Awards and honors
WH Smith Literary Award 2003
Short biography
Donna Tartt (born December 23, 1963) is an American author. Tartt's novels include The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013). Tartt won the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend in 2003 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Goldfinch in 2014. She was included in Time magazine's 2014 "100 Most Influential People" list.

Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi located in the Mississippi Delta, and raised in the nearby town of Grenada. Her father, Don Tartt, was a successful local politician, while her mother, Taylor, was a secretary. At age thirteen, Tartt was published for the first time when a sonnet was included in a Mississippi literary review.

Tartt enrolled in the University of Mississippi in 1981, where her writing caught the attention of Willie Morris while she was a freshman. Following a recommendation from Morris, Barry Hannah, then an Ole Miss writer-in-residence, admitted the eighteen-year-old Tartt into his graduate course on the short story. "She was deeply literary," said Hannah. "Just a rare genius, really. A literary star."

Following the suggestion of Morris and others, she transferred to Bennington College in 1982. At Bennington, Tartt studied classics with Claude Fredericks.

In 2002, Tartt was reportedly working on a retelling of the myth of Daedalus and Icarus for the Canongate Myth Series, a series of novellas in which ancient myths are reimagined and rewritten by contemporary authors. In 2006, Tartt's short story "The Ambush" was included in the Best American Short Stories 2006.

Tartt is a convert to Catholicism and contributed an essay, "The spirit and writing in a secular world", to The Novel, Spirituality and Modern Culture (2000). In her essay Tartt wrote that "...faith is vital in the process of making my work and in the reasons I am driven to make it". However, Tartt also warned of the danger of writers who impose their beliefs or convictions on their novels. She wrote that writers should "shy from asserting those convictions directly in their work".



Thriller - group of friends killed their friend in Name that Book (October 2020)
The Goldfinch SPOILERS ALLOWED in Girlybooks (August 2014)


Sometimes I hear books referred to as “popcorn”, maybe something easy to read or light. This was a full on three course meal. It was so dense, but the writing was so good.
yeffin | 551 other reviews | Jul 13, 2024 |
A compelling story told in beautiful prose, with a somewhat underwhelming conclusion. I loved the complex characters, though felt most disconnected from the main character.
LaPhenix | 551 other reviews | Jul 8, 2024 |
The Secret History is a murder non-mystery; in the novel's opening paragraph its first-person narrator, Richard Papen, confesses his role in the murder of another student of Hampden, a small liberal arts college in Vermont. The only facts left to discover after his admission are what led to the murder and what happened in its wake that leaves Richard—as he puts it—with no other stories to tell.

At Hampden, Richard is befriended by the only other students studying classics with Julian Morrow, a reclusive professor of some renown in the literary world. Henry Winter is the group's ringleader; it is his "modest plan" that results in the murder of the troublesome Edmund "Bunny" Corcoran by Henry and his three cohorts, the maternal twins Charles and Camilla Macaulay and the affable Francis Abernathy.

The novel is broken into two parts: the fatal consequences of Bunny's accidental discovery of a crime all his friends except Richard participated in, and the aftermath of Bunny's murder as the five remaining friends pretend it has no impact on their psyches. Impaired by drugs, alcohol, lust and incest, the group eventually collapses under the weight of its paranoia-induced mistrust of each other.

Some aspects of the story are hard to believe. The depth of Richard's knowledge of the habits and mannerisms of his friends is more in line with a lifelong acquaintance than an association of little more than a semester. The continual drunkenness exhibited by the group is shocking; its lack of impact on their studies is equally unconvincing. And Bunny's family is particularly cartoonish.

Despite these flaws, The Secret History is an engaging story of the detrimental effects of manipulation and deception among well-educated young people isolated in a remote college town with too much free time and money.
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skavlanj | 551 other reviews | Jun 25, 2024 |
Here's what I wrote in 2014 about this read: "Hmmm, won the Publizer prize but was panned by some. Very long, with a definitely flawed hero. Interesting to learn more about the art world and the Goldfinch painting specifically. Getting weary of novels involving drug junkies and suicidal tendencies (really). Depressing stuff even if it is very much present in our current society. Based on reviews, would be interested to read her first book, The Secret History."
MGADMJK | 798 other reviews | Jun 20, 2024 |


AP Lit (1)
Crime (1)
Romans (1)
1990s (1)
2010s (1)


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