Birthplace: Greenwood, Mississippi
Best known as: Author of The Secret History
Donna Tartt's first novel, The Secret History, was published in 1992 after a flurry of publicity over the sizable advance she received -- nearly a million dollars, including foreign and paperback rights. The tale of college students entwined in murder, the novel was hailed by some as great literature and criticized by others as pretentious; it became a bestseller and an international success. Tartt, a native of Mississippi, began the novel in the 1980s, when she was still a student at Bennington College in Vermont. The success of The Secret History made her a book world celebrity and left readers anticipating her second novel, but Tartt was in no hurry. After ten years, during which she published essays, poems and short stories, she published The Little Friend, another popular and critical success.
Extra credit: Fellow Bennington student Bret Easton Ellis (author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho) helped her get her first novel published... Other writers who attended Bennington include Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn) and Jill Eisenstadt (From Rockaway).
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