Donna Tartt was born in 1963 in Greenwood, Mississippi and grew up in Grenada, Mississippi. She had an early love for literature and started writing as a child. She studied at the University of Mississippi where one of her stories was spotted by Willie Morris who recommended her to Barry Hannah who was running a graduate short story course. From there she went to Bennington College, Vermont, where she started to write The Secret History. Both Jonathan Lethem and Bret Easton Ellis were in her year. It was Ellis who referred her to an agent, who had the novel published through Knopf. It was both a critical and commercial success. It took her ten years to publish her second novel, The Little Friend and a further eleven years before she published her third novel, The Goldfinch.