Biography of Donna Tartt

Though known to be an intensely private person, much of Donna Tartt’s life has been in the spotlight. Born in Greenwood, Mississippi on December 23, 1963 and raised in Grenada, Mississippi, Tartt was an especially precocious child. First published at the age of 13 in a Mississippi literary review, Tartt began writing poetry at 5.

Her work extended to short stories and essays, and in her second year at college she began work on what would become her first novel, The Secret History. Deeply influenced by the author's time at Bennington College, the novel was published in 1992 and cemented Tartt as part of the “Literary Brat Pack” with fellow members Bret Easton Ellis, Jill Eisenstadt, Jay McInerney, and Tama Janowitz.

Tartt’s close friends at Bennington included Bret Easton Ellis and Jill Eisenstadt. Of Tartt’s writing, Eisenstadt said, “Donna's stories were very sophisticated, very mysterious, very structurally sound. She was the only person I knew who'd studied Greek and Latin, who'd read all of Proust." Together, the Brat Pack captured the attention of the literary world, with Tartt becoming the latest member of the group to be published.

Following the success of The Secret History, Tartt published her next book, The Little Friend, in 2002, ten years after her initial success. In that time, Tartt’s popularity began to grow, as the long pauses between her novels grew slightly longer after the 2013 publication of The Goldfinch.

Consistently met with critical controversy, Tartt’s novels continued to achieve high sales. The Goldfinch, Tartt’s bestselling and arguably most critically contentious, would go on to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, despite disparaging reviews in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The New York Review of Books. The Goldfinch would go on to be adapted into a 2019 film, which faced similar critical concerns.

Tartt currently splits her time between New York City and a dacha in rural Virginia. She is working on her fourth novel, the publication date of which is not currently disclosed.

Study Guides on Works by Donna Tartt

After a decade of reading, research, and writing, Donna Tartt published her highly-anticipated third novel, The Goldfinch. The 2013 novel tells the story of Theo Decker, and centers around loss, death and the titular painting, The Goldfinch.


The Secret History is Donna Tartt's first novel; it was published in 1992, when Tartt was 29 years old. Like the protagonist Richard, Tartt had transferred to a small elite college in New England (Bennington College) after beginning her studies...