Donna Louise Tartt (born December 23, 1963)[2] is an American novelist and essayist. Her work has been widely critically-acclaimed, and her novel The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and has been adapted into a film.

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)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2014)
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction (2014)
Donna Tartt's three novels in German, published by Goldmann.

Early lifeEdit

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.[3][4][5] Her parents were avid readers, and her mother would read while driving.[6]

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.[3]

In 1968, aged five, Tartt wrote her first poem.[7]

In 1976, aged thirteen, Tartt was published for the first time when a sonnet was included in The Mississippi Review.[3][8]

In high school, Tartt was a freshman cheerleader for the basketball team and worked in the public library.[4][9][10]

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."[7][11][12][13][14]

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."[15]

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.[16][2] Tartt graduated in 1986.[17]


Tartt's novels are The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013).[18] Tartt published her first novel, The Secret History in 1992.[19][20] The book was derived from her time at Bennington College.[21] Amanda Urban was her agent and the novel became a critical and financial success.[22][23] Vanity Fair called Tartt a precocious literary genius, as she was just 29 years old.[24]

In 2002, Tartt's novel The Little Friend was first published in Dutch, since her books sold more per capita in the Netherlands than elsewhere.[25][26][27][28][29]

In 2006, Tartt's short story "The Ambush" was included in the Best American Short Stories 2006.[30]

Her 2013 novel The Goldfinch stirred reviewers as to whether it was a literary novel, a controversy possibly based on its best-selling status.[24][31][32] 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.[33] The movie was a critical and commercial failure.[34][35]

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 Tartt wrote that "faith is vital in the process of making my work and in the reasons I am driven to make it."[36] 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."[36][3]

She has spent about ten years writing each of her novels.[24][37][38]

Tartt won the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend in 2003 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Goldfinch in 2014.[39] She was included in Time magazine's 2014 "100 Most Influential People" list.[40]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2002, it was reported that Tartt had lived in Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side,[41] and on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia;[42] that she is 5 feet (1.5 m) tall[43] and that she had said she would never get married.[44] 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.[37] In 2016, Tartt's cousin, police officer James Lee Tartt, was killed while on duty.[45]

As of 2016, Virginia Living published that Donna 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.[46] Donna Tartt also dedicates her second novel to someone named Neal, although she does not elaborate on his identity.



Works authored byEdit


Short storiesEdit


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.[53]
  • "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. This book of memorials collects twenty-seven eulogies and tributes.
  • “Afterword” in True Grit, Charles Portis, Overlook Press, New York, 2010, pp. 255-267

Audiobooks read byEdit

Works by TarttEdit

  • The Secret History
  • The Little Friend (abridged)

Works by othersEdit


  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. Donna Tartt, (born December 23, 1963
  3. ^ a b c d Kaplan, James (September 1992). "Smart Tartt: Introducing Donna Tartt". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Ybarra, Michael J. (December 8, 2002). "Famous and yet unknown". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 31, 2021. Tartt worked in the public library as a high school student
  5. ^ 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. Her father Don was a wild card — an erstwhile rockabilly musician turned politician; her mother, a Southern belle, who Tartt says was 'not particularly interested' in small children. Tartt and her sister spent much of their childhood running in and out of the houses of elderly aunts and grandparents.
  6. ^ "Your guide to mysterious literary genius Donna Tartt". Dazed. November 14, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2021. Her father, Don, and mother, Taylor, were both bookworms
  7. ^ a b "Donna Tartt (1963- )". Mississippi Writers Page. English Department, University of Mississippi. November 9, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Elizabeth Jones Library". Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  10. ^ "Elizabeth Jones Library". Elizabeth Jones Library. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  11. ^ Tartt, Donna. "My friend, my mentor, my inspiration". Remembering Willie. University Press of Mississippi. Retrieved January 31, 2021. 'Would you like a Coca-Cola, young lady?' he asked me on that first night, interrupting himself in the middle of a story, when his old pal, Clyde, the bartender came around to take our order at the bar of the Holiday Inn. 'No, sir, I believe I'll have what you're drinking'
  12. ^ "Donna Tartt". The Guardian. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  13. ^ Ross, Peter Ross (November 2002). "Donna Tartt". Sunday Herald. Retrieved January 31, 2021. She sent some short stories to the local paper. A journalist passed them on to Willie Morris, an influential member of the literati and writer-in-residence at Ole Miss. He tracked her down at the bar of the Holiday Inn. 'Are you Donna Tartt?' Yes, she was. 'My name is Willie Morris, and I think you're a genius.'
  14. ^ Oxford, Mississippi#Media
  15. ^ Galbraith, Lacey (Winter 2004). "Interview: Barry Hannah, The Art of Fiction". Paris Review, no. 184. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  16. ^ Anolik, Lili (May 28, 2019). "Money, Madness, Cocaine and Literary Genius: An Oral History of the 1980s' Most Decadent College". Esquire. I think I got in on a short story I sent in. Nobody I know would have been there if they had required SAT scores.
  17. ^ McCaffrey, Caitlin; Bennington College. "Donna Tartt, '86, photograph, circa 1992". 75 Years of Pioneering Innovation. Issuu. p. 67. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  18. ^ Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (February 12, 2013). "Donna Tartts Long Awaited Third Novel Will Be Published This Year". New York Observer. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  19. ^ Steinz, Pieter (March 14, 1993). "Donna Tartt on The Secret History". The John Adams Institute. John Adams Institute. Retrieved January 31, 2021. On March 14, 1993 American author Donna Tartt visited the John Adams Institute to speak about her bestselling novel 'The Secret History', which has been translated into 24 languages. Pieter Steinz moderated the evening.
  20. ^ "Donna Tartt interview (1992)". YouTube. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  21. ^ Anolik, Lili (May 28, 2019). "Money, Madness, Cocaine and Literary Genius: An Oral History of the 1980s' Most Decadent College". Esquire.
  22. ^ "Donna Tartt (1963- )". Mississippi Writers Page. Ole Miss. Archived from the original on October 3, 1999. Retrieved January 31, 2021. The novel remained on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list for 13 weeks, reaching as high as number two.
  23. ^ 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. several months on a host of best-seller lists established 'The Secret History' as a true commercial and critical success.
  24. ^ a b c Peretz, Evgenia (June 11, 2014). "It's Tartt—But Is It Art?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  25. ^ Buchsbaum, Tony. "Review | The Little Friend by Donna Tartt". January Magazine. Retrieved February 1, 2021. the Netherlands (where Tartt is something of a literary god)
  26. ^ Lin, Francie (November 10, 2002). "Her brother's keeper". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2021. (The Secret History) ... Since its publication in 1992, it has spawned an international coterie of readers so devoted to Tartt that in July, Britain's Observer reported rumors of a black market for English translations of 'The Little Friend' in the Netherlands, where the book received early publication in Dutch.
  27. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (July 28, 2002). "The secret history of Donna Tartt's new novel". The Guardian. Retrieved February 1, 2021. The haunting 800-page saga, sold to the British publisher Bloomsbury for just under £1 million, is due to appear first in bookshops in the Netherlands in September. As word of this filters out to fans over the internet, secret plans are being laid to ship out early Dutch copies as collectors' items, and to arrange for high-speed translations into English. The level of interest may even lead to a short-lived black market.
  28. ^ 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. If you think Donna Tartt is getting a rush of media attention in this country, you should visit Holland. The Dutch are mad about Tartt, author of the 1992 publishing sensation The Secret History. Her second novel, The Little Friend, sold 150,000 copies in its first week there. She is the Jerry Lewis of the Netherlands.
  29. ^ Patterson, Troy (November 1, 2002). "The Little Friend". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 1, 2021. Donna Tartt's second novel is the most eagerly anticipated book of the year.
  30. ^ "The Best American Short Stories 2006". Kirkus Reviews. August 15, 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  31. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (October 7, 2013). "A Painting as Talisman, as Enduring as Loved Ones Are Not". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Wood, James (October 14, 2013). "The New Curiosity Shop". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 31, 2021. Donna Tartt's 'The Goldfinch.'
  33. ^ "Why Donna Tartt's the Secret History Never Became a Movie". September 15, 2019.
  34. ^ "The Goldfinch review – Donna Tartt's art-theft epic has its wings clipped | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week". September 26, 2019.
  35. ^ "Box Office: 'The Goldfinch' Flops in Another Disaster for Warner Bros.' Doomed Dramas". Forbes.
  36. ^ a b Doino Jr., William (December 9, 2013). "Donna Tartt's Goldfinch". First Things. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Interview: The very, very private life of Ms Donna Tartt". The Irish Independent. November 24, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  38. ^ "Interview: The very, very private life of Ms Donna Tartt". independent. November 24, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2021. She writes by hand, making notes in red and blue pencil, stapling note cards to the pages and when the notebooks start to fall apart she prints out drafts, and each new draft is printed on a corresponding shade of paper.
  39. ^ "The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)". Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  40. ^ a b Patchett, Ann (April 23, 2014). "Donna Tartt". Time.
  41. ^ 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. In fact, her publisher is pulling out all the stops, even providing her with a makeup artist for photo sessions - an almost unheard of rarity on the book promotion circuit. We meet not far from her Upper East Side apartment (she also owns a country place in Virginia).
  42. ^ "A most complex Lolita". The Sydney Morning Herald. November 2, 2002. Retrieved January 31, 2021. was a cheerleader for her high school basketball team,
  43. ^ "Famous and yet unknown". Los Angeles Times. December 8, 2002.
  44. ^ Viner, Katharine (October 19, 2002). "Interview: Donna Tartt". The Guardian. Retrieved January 31, 2021. her fascinating pronouncements ('My life is like Candide' or 'I'm the exact same size as Lolita' ['ninety pounds is all she weighs/with a height of sixty inches']), her chaste aura of another era ('Je ne vais jamais me marier', she once said, winsomely).
  45. ^ Associated Press in Iuka, Mississippi (February 20, 2016). "Law enforcement agent killed and three others wounded in Mississippi standoff". Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  46. ^ "Arresting Images".
  47. ^ "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  48. ^ Brown, Mark (April 7, 2014). "Donna Tartt Heads Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2014 Shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  49. ^ "The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)". Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  50. ^ "Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction | Awards & Grants". Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  51. ^ "Vanity Fair's best-dressed list: Donna Tartt's life-long style". The Guardian. August 7, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  52. ^ Tartt, Donna (April 19, 1993). "Fiction: Tam-O'-Shanter" (abstract). The New Yorker. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  53. ^ Williams, Cameron (January 11, 2012). "Profile: Donna Tartt". Southern Literary Review. Retrieved January 31, 2021.


External linksEdit