The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History, the first novel by Mississippi-born writer Donna Tartt, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1992. A 75,000 print order was made for the first edition (as opposed to the usual 10,000 order for a debut novel), and the book became a bestseller. Set in New England, The Secret History tells the story of a closely knit group of six classics students at a small, elite Vermont college, similar in many respects to Bennington College (in Bennington, Vermont) where Tartt was a student from 1982 to 1986. Tartt's tale has certain parallels with the unsolved case of Bennington art student Paula Jean Welden who vanished while hiking near the college in 1946. One of the six students is the story's narrator, Richard Papen, who reflects, years later, on the situation that led to a murder within the group, implying such at the outset but otherwise revealing events sequentially. In the opening chapter, as the reader is introduced to Papen, the death of student Edmund "Bunny" Corcoran is revealed, although few details are given initially. The novel undertakes to explore the circumstances and lasting effects of his murder on an academically and socially isolated group of students attending Hampden College in Vermont. The impact on the students is ultimately destructive, and the potential promise of many young lives is lost to circumstance. It mirrors, in many ways, the notion of a Greek tragedy with fate playing a large part in dictating the very circumstances that lead to an escalation of already fermenting issues.

The 309th greatest fiction book of all time

This book is on the following lists:

  1. - 69th on The New Classics - 100 Best Reads from 1983 to 2008 (Entertainment Weekly)
  2. - 70th on 100 Best Novels in English Since 1900 (Counterpunch)
  3. - The 50 Books Everyone Needs to Read, 1963-2013 (Flavor Wire)
  4. - Best Books Ever (
  5. - 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime ( (UK))
  6. - The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years (Parade Magazine)
  7. - 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (The Book)
  8. - 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime ( (USA))

Buy This Book

Name Binding Sales Rank Lowest New Lowest Used Published
The Secret History Hardcover 108673 $119.99 $11.98 1992
THE SECRET HISTORY. Hardcover 1210560 $186.42 $46.65
The Secret History Paperback 59235 $1.25 $0.01
El secreto (Spanish Edition) Kindle Edition 452228 2014
The Secret History Paperback 53084 $1.30 $0.01 1996
Die geheime Geschichte: Roman (German Edition) Kindle Edition 235395 $9.59 2012
Die geheime Geschichte. (German Edition) Paperback 2400458 $106.58 $2.07 1995
The Secret History Paperback 867662 $4.85
The Secret History Hardcover 3816279 $134.54 $75.74 1994
The Secret History Audio Cassette 6025154 $4.24 1992
The Secret History Hardcover 770363 $3.83
The Secret History Hardcover 2315335 $37.00 $17.10 1996
THE SECRET HISTORY Paperback 58824 $11.13 $6.25 1993
The secret history / Donna Tartt Hardcover 2616523 $20.00 $19.30
El Secreto / The Secret History (Spanish Edition) Paperback 8806807 $999.11 $999.11 2006
The Secret History and the Little Friend Hardcover 4572239 $97.99 $100.00 2009
The Secret History Paperback 1277842 $133.82 $2.00
El secreto / The Secret History (Spanish Edition) Paperback 5426121 $26.77 $22.75 2014
The Secret History Kindle Edition 563 $9.50 2011
El Secreto Paperback 2245290 $21.62 2000
The Secret History Paperback 837 $10.49 $4.11 1992