• Birth—December 23, 1963
• Where—Greenwood, Mississippi, USA
• Education—B.A., Bennington College
• Awards—WH Smith Literary Award
• Currently—lives in New York, New York
Donna Tartt is an American writer and author of the novels The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013). She won the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend in 2003.
Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta, and raised in the nearby town of Grenada.
Enrolling in the University of Mississippi in 1981, 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 eighteen-year-old Tartt into his graduate short story course. "She was deeply literary," says 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, and studying classics with Claude Fredericks. She dated Ellis for a while after sharing works in progress, her own The Secret History and Ellis's Less Than Zero.
• Secret History
Tartt began writing her first novel, originally titled "The God of Illusions" and later published as The Secret History, during her second year at Bennington. She graduated from Bennington in 1986. After Ellis recommended her work to literary agent Amanda Urban, The Secret History was published in 1992, and sold out its original print-run of 75,000 copies, becoming a bestseller. It has been translated into 24 languages.
The Secret History is set at a fictional college and concerns a close-knit group of six students and their professor of classics. The students embark upon a secretive plan to stage a bacchanal. The narrator reflects on a variety of circumstances that lead ultimately to murder within the group.
The murder, the location and the perpetrators are revealed in the opening pages, upending the familiar framework and accepted conventions of the murder mystery genre. Critic A.O. Scott labelled it "a murder mystery in reverse." The book was wrapped in a transparent acetate book jacket, a retro design by Barbara De Wilde and Chip Kidd. According to Kidd, "The following season acetate jackets sprang up in bookstores like mushrooms on a murdered tree."
• The Little Friend
Tartt's second novel, The Little Friend, was published in October 2002. It is a mystery centered on a young girl living in the American South in the late 20th century. Her implicit anxieties about the long-unexplained death of her brother and the dynamics of her extended family are a strong focus, as are the contrasting lifestyles and customs of small-town Southerners.
• The Goldfinch
Tartt's long-awaited third novel, The Goldfinch, was published in 2013. The plot centers on a a young boy in New York City whose mother is killed in an accident. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes enthralled by a small, mysteriously captivating painting of a goldfinch, which reminds him of his mother...and which soon draws him into the art underworld. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/14/13.)
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