The Secret History

by Tartt, Donna

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a novel that follows the lives of a group of classics students at a small, elite college in New England. The students, led by their charismatic and eccentric professor, become obsessed with ancient Greek culture and rituals, which leads them to commit a terrible crime. The novel explores themes of guilt, obsession, and the corrupting influence of power. Tartt's masterful prose and richly drawn characters make The Secret History a compelling and thought-provoking read. It has become a beloved classic of contemporary literature since its publication in 1992.

First Edition Identification

The Secret History novel was first published in 1992 by Alfred A. Knopf. The original retail price was $23.00. “First edition” is stated on the copyright page. Pictorial boards, spine lettered in black on a white ground, acetate dust jacket with a price of $23.00, and three reviews by John Grisham, Jay McInerney, and Ruth Rendell.

There are two possible variations of the first edition, one with a yellow tone, and another with a gray tone.

Other Collectible or Notable Editions

30th Anniversary commemorative edition of The Secret History (Viking, 2022). Hardback with cloth binding and bespoke marbled endpapers. Edition limited to 500 numbered copies.

Reviews

Review this book!

On Apr 3, 2016, Anonymous said

"…people never seemed to notice at first how big Henry was. Maybe it was because of his clothes, which were like one of those lame but curiously impenetrable disguises from a comic book (why does no one ever see that 'bookish' Clark Kent, without his glasses, is Superman?). Or maybe it was a question of his making people see. He had the far more remarkable talent of making himself invisible – in a room, in a car, a virtual ability to dematerialise at will – and perhaps this gift was only the converse of that one: the sudden concentration of his wandering molecules rendering his shadowy form solid, all at once, a metamorphosis startling the viewer."

The Secret History is the first novel by American author, Donna Tartt. At the age of nineteen, Richard Papen goes to Hampden College in Vermont, primarily to get away from his parents and his depressingly boring hometown of Plano, CA. Having done two years of study in Ancient Greek, he jumps at the opportunity to join an exclusive class of five students studying The Classics under the very selective Julian Morrow.

Richard is somewhat dazzled by his fellow students: Henry Winter, dark-suited, stiff, aloof and extremely intelligent; Francis Abernathy, angular and elegant; the beautiful twins, Charles and Camilla Macaulay, and Bunny Corcoran, loud and cheery. Never does he dream that within a few months, one of their number will be dead.

At the centre of this book, both figuratively and literally, is a murder. The narrative is split into two: what led up to the murder, and the aftermath. The story is told by Richard some nine years after he went to Vermont. Tartt advances her story at a slow and careful pace; her characters, flawed and not necessarily appealing, develop as Richard gets to know them; her descriptive prose expertly evokes the atmosphere of the New England college.

So naturally do events lead into one another that the reader occasionally needs to step back and think: this is murder they are so matter-of-factly discussing. Black humour relieves the tension: the twins, upbraided for their failure to plan a meal, retort "Well, if you wake up intending to murder someone at two o'clock, you hardly think what you're going to feed the corpse for dinner".

As well as giving the reader plenty to think about (the value of life, self-preservation, friendship any loyalty), there is a plot with a few interesting turns and a quite unexpected climax. Tartt combines the story-telling talent of Stephen King with prose worthy of Wallace Stegner: the result is a compelling read that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

On Feb 13, 2015, a reader said
The first book I read by Donna Tartt was her newest "Goldfinch" novel. When I completed it, I immediately went to purchase "The Secret History". I really enjoyed this book. It's a thrilling sort of mystery laced with oddly endearing characters that you feel a closeness to despite their strange underlying coldness at times. Tartt hangs you by a thread most of the book, leaving you wondering what is going to happen next. It's tragic, beautiful and horrific. It's unique. I am in Seattle and it's winter so we're in our overcast time. Reading this book was perfect for this time of year, even though based on the East coast, I could feel the atmosphere entirely. I highly recommend this book.
On Apr 23, 2014, a reader said
Her characters stay with you after you have finished the book. I go back and read this book about twice a year and find some new little character aspect every time.

Available Copies

Secret History

Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
New
Binding
Paperback / softback
ISBN
9781400031702
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Southport, Merseyside, GBR
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$14.72

Show Details

Description:
Paperback / softback. New.
Item Price
$14.72
The Secret History: 30th anniversary edition (Signed Numbered Limited Edition)
More Photos

The Secret History: 30th anniversary edition (Signed Numbered Limited Edition)

by Donna Tartt

Condition
New
Jacket Condition
No Jacket
Edition
1st Edition 1st Printing
Published
2022
Binding
Hardcover
Quantity Available
1
Seller
St Albans, Hertfordshire, GBR
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$629.36

Show Details

Description:
London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2022. 1st Edition 1st Printing. Hardcover. New/No Jacket. *No extra postage* 1st Printing. Signed and Numbered Edition with colour printed endpapers and head and tail bands. Brand new copy. Number may vary.
Item Price
$629.36
The Secret History
More Photos

The Secret History

by Tartt, Donna

Condition
Used - Very Good
Jacket Condition
Near Fine
Edition
3rd printing
Published
1992
Binding
Pictorial boards, black spine, black title
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Dallas, Texas, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$375.00

Show Details

Description:
Signed. First Edition, 3rd printing. Very Good / near fine. Debut novel, now considered a cult masterpiece. Southern gothic goes to Vermont finishing school. The book is well thumbed, but clean, tight and unmarked. The corners are slightly bumped, the edges are slightly soiled and a few corners were turned down. The pages are clean and unmarked and the binding… Read more about this item
Item Price
$375.00
No image available

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
Used - Near Fine
Jacket Condition
Near Fine
Edition
1st Edition
Published
1992
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Lakewood, Colorado, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$850.00

Show Details

Description:
U.S.A.: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992 First edition, first printing; light rubbing to acetate dust; o/w NF/NF; signed bookplate by Donna Tartt loosely laid in book. Signed by Author(s). 1st Edition. Hardcover. Near Fine/Near Fine.
Item Price
$850.00
The Secret History
More Photos

The Secret History

by TARTT, Donna

Condition
Used - Fine
Jacket Condition
Near Fine
Published
1992
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Gloucester City, New Jersey, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$1,250.00

Show Details

Description:
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Hardcover. Fine/Near Fine. First edition. Pictorial boards. Small light stain on the edge of the front fly, else fine in lightly rubbed very near fine printed glassine dust jacket. Briefly Inscribed by the author, her avidly collected first book.
Item Price
$1,250.00
The Secret History

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
New
Binding
Paperback / softback
ISBN
9780140167771
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Southport, Merseyside, GBR
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$14.54

Show Details

Description:
Paperback / softback. New. Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly… Read more about this item
Item Price
$14.54
No image available

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
Used - Good
Published
1996-09-29
Binding
Paperback
ISBN
9780449911518
Quantity Available
1
Seller
HOUSTON, Texas, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$7.88

Show Details

Description:
Ballantine Books, 1996-09-29. Paperback. Good.
Item Price
$7.88
The Secret History.

The Secret History.

by Tartt, Donna

Condition
Used
Published
1992
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$650.00

Show Details

Description:
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. First edition of this contemporary literary classic and "an accomplished psychological thriller...absolutely chilling" (Village Voice). Octavo, original illustrated boards. Signed three times by legendary jacket designer Chip Kidd; on the front panel of the book, on the half-title page and rear jacket panel. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by… Read more about this item
Item Price
$650.00
No image available

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
New
Published
1992-09-05
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
San Diego, California, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$84.25

Show Details

Description:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1992-09-05. Hardcover. New. New. In shrink wrap. Looks like an interesting title!
Item Price
$84.25
The Secret History
More Photos

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
Used
ISBN
9789000066902
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Oxford, Mississippi, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$1,120.00

Show Details

Description:
Uncommon. Signed press kit for The Secret History.
Item Price
$1,120.00
No image available

The Secret History: a novel

by Tartt, Donna

Condition
Used - G PB (crease to bottom corner)
Edition
1st ed
Published
(1992)
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Sebago, Maine, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 3 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$22.00

Show Details

Description:
NY: Knopf. G PB (crease to bottom corner). (1992). 1st ed. Elite life of an elite New England college with its play of emotions and ideas, a novel of psychological suspense. .
Item Price
$22.00
The Secret History.

The Secret History.

by Tartt, Donna

Condition
Used
Published
1992
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$2,500.00

Show Details

Description:
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. First edition of this contemporary literary classic and "an accomplished psychological thriller...absolutely chilling" (Village Voice). Octavo, original illustrated boards. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title page, "To Diana- warm regards- Donna Tartt." Additionally signed four times by jacket designer Chip Kidd; on the front panel book, on the front panel… Read more about this item
Item Price
$2,500.00
No image available

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
Used - Good
Published
1993
Binding
Paperback
ISBN
9780804111355
Quantity Available
1
Seller
HOUSTON, Texas, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$9.49

Show Details

Description:
Ballantine Books, 1993. Paperback. Good.
Item Price
$9.49
The Secret History

The Secret History

by TARTT, Donna

Condition
Used
Published
1992
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Wadsworth, Illinois, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$200.00

Show Details

Description:
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. First edition. Softcover. 523 pages. Advance Reading Copy. The wildly popular and critically acclaimed debut novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Goldfinch." A clean and tight near fine copy in wrappers with some very minor wear and a small thin band of sunning to the base of the… Read more about this item
Item Price
$200.00
The Secret History
More Photos

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Condition
Used
Published
1992
ISBN
9789000007806
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Oxford, Mississippi, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$1,344.00

Show Details

Description:
Alfred A Knopf, 1992. First ed. F/F w/minor rubbing to back of acetate cover, o/w as new. Signed by author on half-title page. Signed at Square Books Sept. 17, 1992.
Item Price
$1,344.00
No image available

The Secret History

by Tartt, Donna

Condition
Used - Near Fine in Near Fine dust jacket
Edition
Ninth Printing
Published
1992
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$37.95

Show Details

Description:
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Near Fine in Near Fine dust jacket. 1992. Ninth Printing. Hardcover. 0679410325 . Mild wear to this fragile glassine dustjacket. Previous owner's name. ; 9.30 X 5.30 X 1.80 inches; 524 pages .
Item Price
$37.95
No image available

The Secret History

by Tartt Donna

Condition
Used:Good
Published
1993-07-01
Binding
Paperback
ISBN
9780140167771
Quantity Available
1
Seller
HOUSTON, Texas, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$21.56

Show Details

Description:
imusti, 1993-07-01. paperback. Used:Good.
Item Price
$21.56
No image available

The Secret History

by Tartt, Donna

Condition
Used - Fine in Near Fine dust jacket
Edition
Sixth Printing
Published
1992
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9780679410324
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$47.95

Show Details

Description:
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Fine in Near Fine dust jacket. 1992. Sixth Printing. Hardcover. 0679410325 . Mild wear to this fragile glassine dustjacket. ; 9.30 X 5.30 X 1.80 inches; 524 pages .
Item Price
$47.95
The Secret History: From the Pulitzer Prize

The Secret History: From the Pulitzer Prize

by Donna Tartt

Condition
NEW
Binding
Paperback
ISBN
9780140167771
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Kolkata, West Bengal, IND
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$18.60

Show Details

Description:
Penguin UK. Paperback. NEW. ecret History is a murder mystery that goes in the reverse order. In the very first chapter, the narrator Richard Papen confesses that he is partly responsible for the death of his college mate Edmund "Bunny" Corcoran. The author does not give away a lot of details initially, but slowly builds up the mystery.… Read more about this item
Item Price
$18.60
Mountaineer: Thirty Years of Climbing the World's Great Peaks

Mountaineer: Thirty Years of Climbing the World's Great Peaks

by Bonington, Chris

Condition
Used - Fine
Jacket Condition
Fine
Edition
1st Edition 1st Printing
Published
1990
Binding
Hardcover
ISBN
9780871566188
Quantity Available
1
Seller
Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$16.00

Show Details

Description:
Sierra Club Books, 1990. 1st Edition 1st Printing. Hardcover. Fine/Fine. Lavish oversize account of notable climbs by one of the world's great mountaineers, illustrated with more than 400 color photographs that he managed to take while not clinging to an overhang. A clean tight unmarked copy of the first edition in dust jacket with price intact. We… Read more about this item
Item Price
$16.00