> Skip to content

Article  •  25 October 2022

 

7 surprising facts about The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Learn about Donna Tartt's beloved book, The Secret History. Currently trending on TikTok and with over 5 million copies sold, it's the modern classic that you don't want to miss.

Published in 1992, The Secret History tells the story of a group of university students who get lost in their own eccentric way of thinking and living. As moral boundaries blur, they find themselves pushing the limits to extreme.

The consequences? Disastrous.

The book quickly became a modern classic and continues to captivate readers today. Thrilling, fast-paced, and full of drama, The Secret History weaves a unique and compelling narrative so realistic that journalists and podcasters have tried to draw connections between the fictional story and the author’s own life.

Read on to learn about a few parallels that readers have noticed and learn more about The Secret History. 

Surprising facts about The Secret History

  1. The book is set at a fictional college in rural Vermont called Hampden College. Readers have speculated that it is based on Bennington College, the small liberal arts school that Tartt attended. Like Hampden, Bennington is also set in rural Vermont and bears many similarities to the fictional college in the book.
  2. Tartt might have been writing from life when it came to her characters. Like the students in the book, Tartt majored in Classics at university. It has been suggested that the professor in the book was based on a professor that the author encountered during her college years.
  3. The Secret History is Donna Tartt’s first book, published when she was only 29. Since then, she has gone on to publish two more novels.
  4. Since its 1992 publication, The Secret History has been translated into 24 languages and sold over 5 million copies.
  5. The Secret History is dedicated to fellow author Bret Easton Ellis, who was in the same graduating class as Tartt at Bennington College.
  6. There has been talk of a movie for years, but nothing has ever come to fruition. Alan J. Pakula first secured the rights to the film but died before the project gained momentum. In 2002, Gwyneth and Jake Paltrow ‘made a deal to develop The Secret History with Miramax,’ reports Town & CountryHowever, their father died that year, and the project fell to the wayside. Eventually, the rights reverted back to Tartt.
  7. The book is current trending on TikTok with over 248 million views of videos related to The Secret History.

 

Haven't read it yet? Add it to your to-read list ASAP and order a copy to see what all the hype is about. 

Feature Title

The Secret History
The dark academia bestseller that defined an age
Read more

More features

See all
Article
The book to read based on your favourite Taylor Swift era

We’ve compiled a book guide to what should be on the top of your TBR pile, depending on your favourite Swift Era.

Article
Staff summer reading recs!

Want some insider intel on the best books to read this summer? Read on for recommendations from the Penguin Random House New Zealand team!

Article
Scorching summer reads

Whether you’re chasing shade on the beach, or sheltering in a bach during a surprise rainstorm, a good book is a summer holiday essential. On this list you’ll find some 2022 scorchers that you may have missed the first time around, and some awesome new releases which we highly recommend.

Book clubs
The Secret History book club questions

A fast-paced modern classic perfect for book clubs.

Q&A
How Emily Henry's own friendships inspired characters in Happy Place

Dive into the mind of romance novel superstar, Emily Henry as she discusses all things Happy Place

Article
Generate a husband

Generate a husband in honour of Holly Gramazio’s debut novel, The Husbands.

Article
Get School Holiday Ready!

Books and activities for the kids these school holidays

Article
Books to keep older kids busy this Easter

Easter is just around the corner, and more and more parents are opting to gift books instead of chocolate.

Article
How well do you know Formula 1?

Author and motorsport journalist Andrew van Leeuwen shares some surprising facts (and fictions) about the sport.

Article
What we'll be reading on the long weekend . . .

A long weekend means bonus reading time! Here's what the PRH team recommend picking up this easter break.

Article
Win a trip for two to Waiheke Island

Win big with the brand-new novel from the International No 1 Bestselling phenomenon and author Marian Keyes

Article
Real Readers Review: The Space Between

Find out what readers really think of Lauren Keenan's historical fiction debut The Space Between

Looking for more articles?

See all articles