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Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt (born December 23, 1963) is an American writer, the author of the novels 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 the list of the "100 Most Influential People" compiled by Time magazine in 2014.

Life and career

Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta, and raised in the nearby town of Grenada.

She enrolled in the University of Mississippi in 1981, and her writing caught the attention of Willie Morris when 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, where she was friends with fellow students Bret Easton Ellis, Jill Eisenstadt, and Jonathan Lethem. At Bennington she studied classics with Claude Fredericks. She dated Ellis for a while after they shared their works in progress, The Secret History and Less Than Zero, respectively.

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 2000 book The Novel, Spirituality and Modern Culture. In her essay Tartt wrote that " is vital in the process of making my work and in the reasons I am driven to make it", but 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".

Style and literary themes

Tartt has largely written in neo-romanticism-inflected prose that borrows heavily from the stylings of nineteenth-century literature. This prose style is uncommon in contemporary American literary fiction, particularly with the tendency of fiction writers and literary critics to favor a briefer, more to-the-point prose style. Her prose style stands in stark contrast to that of her former classmate Bret Easton Ellis, whose novel The Rules of Attraction incorporates a similar setting and has some overlap in character types and themes but is written in a curt, minimalist style.

A number of recurring literary themes occur in Tartt's novels, including those related to social class and social stratification, guilt, and aesthetic beauty.


  • 2003 WH Smith Literary Award – The Little Friend
  • 2003 Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist – The Little Friend
  • 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award (fiction) shortlist – The Goldfinch
  • 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist – The Goldfinch
  • 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – The Goldfinch
  • 2014 TIME 100 The 100 Most Influential People
  • 2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence for Fiction – The Goldfinch
  • Vanity Fair International Best Dressed List, 2014
  • 2014 Malaparte Prize (Italy) – The Goldfinch


  • The Secret History (1992, Alfred A. Knopf)
  • The Little Friend (2002, Alfred A. Knopf)
  • The Goldfinch (2013, Little, Brown)
Short stories
  • “Tam-O'-Shanter”, The New Yorker, April 19, 1993, pp. 90–91
  • “A Christmas Pageant”, Harper’s 287.1723, December 1993, pp. 45–51
  • “A Garter Snake”, GQ 65.5, May 1995, pp. 89ff
  • “The Ambush”, The Guardian, June 25, 2005
  • “Sleepytown: A Southern Gothic Childhood, with Codeine", Harper’s 285.1706, July 1992, pp. 60–66
  • “Basketball Season" in The Best American Sports Writing, edited and with an introduction by Frank Deford, Houghton Mifflin, 1993
  • “Team Spirit: Memories of Being a Freshman Cheerleader for the Basketball Team", Harper’s 288.1727, April 1994, pp. 37–40
  • The Secret History
  • The Little Friend (abridgement)
  • True Grit (with an afterword expressing her love of the novel)
  • Winesburg, Ohio (selection)



  • Hargreaves, Tracy (2001). Donna Tartt's "The Secret History". New York and London: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-5320-1.
  • Kakutani, Michiko (1992). "Students Indulging in Course of Destruction". New York Times, September 4, 1992.
  • Kaplan, James (1992). "Smart Tartt". Vanity Fair, September 1992.
  • McOran-Campbell, Adrian (August 2000). The Secret History.
  • Tartt, Donna (2000). "Spanish Grandeur in Mississippi". Oxford American, Fall 2000.
  • Yee, Danny (1994). "Studying Ancient Greek Warps the Mind of the Young?"

External links

  • Donna Tartt interviewed by Robert Birnbaum at
  • Interview with Jill Eisenstadt in BOMB
  • Tartt on reading and her Scottish grandmother
  • Tartt in Vogue on her teenage worship of Hunter S. Thompson
  • NPR: Talk of the Nation: Donna Tartt interviewed by Lynn Neary (November 5, 2002)
  • NPR: Talk of the Nation: Donna Tartt and Anne Rice interviewed by Ray Suarez (October 30, 1997)
  • Donna Tartt at BBC Radio 4 – Bookclub interviewed by James Naughtie (January 5, 2014)
  • The Guardian's 10 Best Dressed People of 2013

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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