Tartt is the vaguely reclusive author of The Secret History and The Little Friend.

Tartt grew up in a mansion in Grenada, Mississippi, the daughter of quintessential Southerners. She was just 28 when she published her mega-bestselling novel, 1992's The Secret History. Tartt's epic tale of an insular and murderous clique of classics students at Vermont's Hampden College, with the fictional Hampden being a depiction of Tartt's alma mater, the ultra-preppie Bennington, made its' mark as one of the most acclaimed and successful first novels of all time. The Secret History went on to spend several months on the New York Times bestseller list, sold more than a million copies in the US alone, and has been translated into 24 languages. The only area the novel hasn't succeeded in is reaching the big screen: For the past decade, Tartt fans have been avidly following the never-ending saga of The Secret History's movie adaptation.

Tartt's follow-up, The Little Friend, took 10 years to complete; rumors abounded of writer's block and lost manuscripts, although Tartt's explanation is that she's a perfectionist. When it did finally debut, The Little Friend, a murder mystery narrated by a twelve-year-old girl, received a mixed critical reception and failed to succeed commercially on the level of The Secret History.

Tartt has managed to have a distinguished literary career while maintaining an air of mystique; unlike her fellow superstar authors, she neither allows her personal life to become gossip column fodder nor courts media attention. Perhaps as a result, journalists tend to focus on her looks, waxing lyrical about her petite frame, pale skin and perennially bobbed hair. [Image via Getty]