Donna Tartt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Donna Tartt
Tartt at the 2015 Rome Film Festival
Tartt at the 2015 Rome Film Festival
Born (1963-12-23) December 23, 1963 (age 59)
Greenwood, Mississippi, U.S.
OccupationFiction writer
Alma materBennington College
Literary movementNeo-romanticism
Notable worksThe Secret History (1992)
The Little Friend (2002)
The Goldfinch (2013)
Notable awardsWH Smith Literary Award
2003 The Little Friend

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
2014 The Goldfinch

Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
2014 The Goldfinch
Tartt's three novels in German, published by Goldmann.

Donna Louise Tartt (born December 23, 1963)[2] is an American novelist and essayist. Her novels are The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013).[3] She was included in Time magazine's 2014 "100 Most Influential People" list.[4] The Goldfinch has been adapted into a film.

Early life[edit]

Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta, the elder of two daughters. She was raised in the nearby town of Grenada. Her father, Don Tartt, was a rockabilly musician, turned freeway "service station owner-cum-local politician", while her mother, Taylor, was a secretary.[5][6][7] Her parents were avid readers, and her mother would read while driving.[8]

I know a ton of poetry by heart, When I was a little kid, first thing I memorized were really long poems by A. A. Milne ... I also know all these things that I was made to learn. I'm sort of this horrible repository of doggerel verse.[5]

In 1968, aged five, Tartt wrote her first poem.[9] In 1976, aged thirteen, she was published for the first time when a sonnet was included in the Mississippi Review.[5][10] In high school, she was a freshman cheerleader for the basketball team and worked in the public library.[6][11][12]

In 1981, Tartt enrolled in the University of Mississippi where her writing caught the attention of Willie Morris while she was a freshman. Finding her in the Holiday Inn bar one evening, Morris said to her, "My name is Willie Morris, and I think you're a genius."[9][13][14][15][16]

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."[17]

In 1982, following the suggestion of Morris and others, she transferred to Bennington College. At Bennington, Tartt studied classics with Claude Fredericks, and also met Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Jill Eisenstadt.[18][2] Tartt graduated in 1986.[19]


The Secret History (1992)[20][21] was derived from her time at Bennington College.[22] Amanda Urban was her agent and the novel became a critical and financial success.[23][24] Vanity Fair called Tartt a precocious literary genius, as she was just 29 years old.[25]

Tartt's novel The Little Friend (2002) was first published in Dutch, since her books sold more per capita in the Netherlands than elsewhere.[26][27][28][29][30]

In 2006, Tartt's short story "The Ambush" was included in the Best American Short Stories 2006.[31]

Her 2013 novel The Goldfinch stirred reviewers as to whether it was a literary novel, a controversy possibly based on its best-selling status.[25][32][33] The book was adapted for the movie The Goldfinch. Tartt was reportedly paid $3m for the movie rights but parted company with her long-standing agent, Amanda Urban, over the latter's failure to secure Tartt a role in the screenplay writing or wider production.[34] The movie was a critical and commercial failure.[35][36]

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 she wrote that "faith is vital in the process of making my work and in the reasons I am driven to make it."[37] 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."[37][5]

She has spent about ten years writing each of her novels.[25][38][39]

Personal life[edit]

In 2002, it was reported that Tartt had lived in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side,[40] and on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia;[41] that she is 5 feet (1.5 m) tall[42] and that she had said she would never get married.[43] In 2013, she claimed that she was not a recluse while stressing the freedoms of shutting the door, closing the curtains and not participating in the life of culture.[38] In 2016, Tartt's cousin, police officer James Lee Tartt, was killed while on duty.[44]

As of 2016, Virginia Living published that Tartt lived with art gallery owner Neal Guma. Both of them studied at Bennington. She and her partner purchased the Charlottesville property back in 1997.[45] Tartt also dedicated her second novel to someone named Neal, although she does not elaborate on his identity.



Works authored by[edit]


Short stories[edit]


  • "Sleepytown: A Southern Gothic Childhood, with Codeine]", Harper's Magazine 285.1706, July 1992, pp. 60–66
Tartt's great-grandfather gave the five-year-old, for tonsillitis, whiskey, and codeine cough syrup, for two years, when kept home due to tonsillitis, she would read and write poetry.[52]
  • "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 Magazine 288.1727, April 1994, pp. 37–40
  • "My friend, my mentor, my inspiration". in Remembering Willie. University Press of Mississippi. 2000. ISBN 978-1-57806-267-6.
  • "Afterword" in True Grit, Charles Portis, Overlook Press, New York, 2010, pp. 255-267

Audiobooks read by[edit]

Works by Tartt[edit]

  • The Secret History
  • The Little Friend (abridged)

Works by others[edit]


  1. ^ "Donna Tartt". Front Row. November 4, 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Kuiper, Kathleen (December 19, 2020). "Donna Tartt". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. ^ Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (February 12, 2013). "Donna Tartts Long Awaited Third Novel Will Be Published This Year". New York Observer. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Patchett, Ann (April 23, 2014). "Donna Tartt". Time.
  5. ^ a b c d Kaplan, James (September 1992). "Smart Tartt: Introducing Donna Tartt". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Ybarra, Michael J. (December 8, 2002). "Famous and yet unknown". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  7. ^ Brown, Mick (December 26, 2013). "The Goldfinch author Donna Tartt: 'If I'm not working, I'm not happy'". Gulf News. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  8. ^ "Your guide to mysterious literary genius Donna Tartt". Dazed. November 14, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Donna Tartt (1963- )". Mississippi Writers Page. English Department, University of Mississippi. November 9, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  10. ^ "The Mississippi Literary Review. (University of Mississippi) Volume I, Number 1, November, 1941 - first and only issue". PB Auction Galleries, Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  11. ^ "Elizabeth Jones Library". Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  12. ^ "Elizabeth Jones Library". Elizabeth Jones Library. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  13. ^ Tartt, Donna. "My friend, my mentor, my inspiration". Remembering Willie. University Press of Mississippi. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  14. ^ "Donna Tartt". The Guardian. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  15. ^ Ross, Peter Ross (November 2002). "Donna Tartt". Sunday Herald. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  16. ^ Oxford, Mississippi#Media
  17. ^ Galbraith, Lacey (Winter 2004). "Interview: Barry Hannah, The Art of Fiction". Paris Review, no. 184. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  18. ^ Anolik, Lili (May 28, 2019). "Money, Madness, Cocaine and Literary Genius: An Oral History of the 1980s' Most Decadent College". Esquire.
  19. ^ McCaffrey, Caitlin; Bennington College (January 13, 2014). "Donna Tartt, '86, photograph, circa 1992". 75 Years of Pioneering Innovation. Issuu. p. 67. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  20. ^ Steinz, Pieter (March 14, 1993). "Donna Tartt on The Secret History". The John Adams Institute. John Adams Institute. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  21. ^ "Donna Tartt interview (1992)". YouTube. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  22. ^ Anolik, Lili (May 28, 2019). "Money, Madness, Cocaine and Literary Genius: An Oral History of the 1980s' Most Decadent College". Esquire.
  23. ^ "Donna Tartt (1963- )". Mississippi Writers Page. Ole Miss. Archived from the original on October 3, 1999. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  24. ^ Fein, Esther B. (November 16, 1992). "The Media Business; The Marketing of a Cause Celebre (Published 1992)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  25. ^ a b c Peretz, Evgenia (June 11, 2014). "It's Tartt—But Is It Art?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  26. ^ Buchsbaum, Tony. "Review | The Little Friend by Donna Tartt". January Magazine. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  27. ^ Lin, Francie (November 10, 2002). "Her brother's keeper". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  28. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (July 28, 2002). "The secret history of Donna Tartt's new novel". The Guardian. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  29. ^ Mabe, Chauncey (November 10, 2002). "Tartt, A Dutch Treat, Stirs A Storm At Home". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  30. ^ Patterson, Troy (November 1, 2002). "The Little Friend". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  31. ^ "The Best American Short Stories 2006". Kirkus Reviews. August 15, 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  32. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (October 7, 2013). "A Painting as Talisman, as Enduring as Loved Ones Are Not". The New York Times.
  33. ^ Wood, James (October 14, 2013). "The New Curiosity Shop". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  34. ^ "Why Donna Tartt's the Secret History Never Became a Movie". September 15, 2019.
  35. ^ "The Goldfinch review – Donna Tartt's art-theft epic has its wings clipped | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week". September 26, 2019.
  36. ^ "Box Office: 'The Goldfinch' Flops in Another Disaster for Warner Bros.' Doomed Dramas". Forbes.
  37. ^ a b Doino Jr., William (December 9, 2013). "Donna Tartt's Goldfinch". First Things. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  38. ^ a b "Interview: The very, very private life of Ms Donna Tartt". The Irish Independent. November 24, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  39. ^ "Interview: The very, very private life of Ms Donna Tartt". independent. November 24, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  40. ^ Cryer, Dan (November 4, 2002). "Her Own Twist / Donna Tartt says she writes the kind of old-fashioned novels that suit her taste. Luckily, other people seem to like them, too". Newsday. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  41. ^ "A most complex Lolita". The Sydney Morning Herald. November 2, 2002. Retrieved January 31, 2021.,
  42. ^ "Famous and yet unknown". Los Angeles Times. December 8, 2002.
  43. ^ Viner, Katharine (October 19, 2002). "Interview: Donna Tartt". The Guardian. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  44. ^ Associated Press in Iuka, Mississippi (February 20, 2016). "Law enforcement agent killed and three others wounded in Mississippi standoff". Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  45. ^ "Arresting Images".
  46. ^ "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  47. ^ Brown, Mark (April 7, 2014). "Donna Tartt Heads Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2014 Shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  48. ^ "The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)". Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  49. ^ "Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction | Awards & Grants". Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  50. ^ "Vanity Fair's best-dressed list: Donna Tartt's life-long style". The Guardian. August 7, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  51. ^ Tartt, Donna (April 19, 1993). "Fiction: Tam-O'-Shanter" (abstract). The New Yorker. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  52. ^ Williams, Cameron (January 11, 2012). "Profile: Donna Tartt". Southern Literary Review. Retrieved January 31, 2021.

General references[edit]

External links[edit]