Donna Tartt

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Donna Tartt
Born (1963-12-23) December 23, 1963 (age 53)
Greenwood, Mississippi
Occupation Fiction writer
Nationality American
Period 1992–present
Literary movement Neo-romanticism
Notable works The Secret History (1992)
The Little Friend (2002)
The Goldfinch (2013)
Notable awards WH Smith Literary Award (2003)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2014)
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction (2014)

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).[1] 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.[2]

Life and career[edit]

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."[3] 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.[4]

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

Tartt is Roman Catholic.[6]

Style and literary themes[edit]

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 Less Than Zero 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.



Short stories
  • “Tam-O'-Shanter”, The New Yorker, April 19, 1993, pp. 90–91[15]
  • “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)



External links[edit]