Donna Tartt Sends Legal Warning to “Once Upon a Time… At Bennington College” Podcast

This will all make a fantastic book some day

Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt walks the red carpet during the 10th Rome Film Fest at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 19, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

Bennington College’s Class of 1986 looms large in contemporary American literature. Given that members of said class include Bret Easton Ellis, Donna Tartt and Jonathan Lethem, how could it not? In 2019, Lili Anolik wrote about this moment in cultural history for Esquire, and went on to expand on it for a new podcast, Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College.

“This is, in my opinion, the biggest story I’ve ever attempted. It’s the story not just of three of the most important writers of a generation, but of the generation, period,” Anolik said when the series was announced — and mentioned that it would explore some of the real-world inspiration behind the books these authors would go on to write, including Tartt’s acclaimed The Secret History.

It’s not hard to see why this would interest so many people. But it’s also not surprising that some of those whose lives fall into the podcast’s purview are less than thrilled about it — with Page Six now reporting that Tartt’s lawyers have pushed back against the podcast.

The article notes that Tartt’s lawyers reportedly asked the creators of the podcast not to broadcast any kind of “false, misleading or otherwise inaccurate statement” regarding Tartt. Her lawyers also requested that Tartt’s work not be used without securing the proper permissions.

It’s not clear if this rhetoric will escalate beyond a series of letters. And while the pushback might frustrate fans of Tartt’s work hoping to learn more about the stories behind them, her position seems understandable — I can’t think of many people who would enjoy having their college years turned into a popular podcast, after all.

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