Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Secret History: Introduction
The Secret History: Plot Summary
The Secret History: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Secret History: Themes
The Secret History: Quotes
The Secret History: Characters
The Secret History: Symbols
The Secret History: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Donna Tartt
Historical Context of The Secret History
Other Books Related to The Secret History
- Full Title: The Secret History
- When Written: 1982–1991
- Where Written: Bennington College, Vermont; Greenwich Village, New York; Boston, Massachusetts
- When Published: 1992
- Literary Period: Contemporary Fiction
- Genre: Campus Novel
- Setting: Hampden College in Vermont in the 1980s; Hampden is a fictional version of Bennington College.
- Climax: Charles bursts into Camilla’s room with a gun and fires it, shooting Richard in the stomach. Henry then takes the gun from Charles and shoots himself twice in the head.
- Point of View: First Person
Extra Credit for The Secret History
In-Jokes. Friend and fellow author Brett Easton Ellis made references to The Secret History in his 1987 novel The Rules of Attraction, even though The Secret History wouldn’t be released for another five years.
Roman à clef? Since the release of The Secret History, many people from Tartt’s college years have come out and claimed that characters in the book are based on them. Although Tartt admits that she took inspiration from her real-life experience at Bennington College, she maintains that her characters are not based on specific people.