Diana Altman


Writes about a slice of American history that still haunts us today.

Diana Altman is the author of Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the origins of the studio system, a book of film history still quoted in movie star biographies. Her novel In Theda Bara’s Tent was described by Publishers Weekly as “enthralling.” Her latest novel, We Never Told, was compared to Wally Lamb and received 5-stars on Booklist. Her short stories have appeared in Trampset, The Notre Dame Review, StoryQuarterly, Cumberland River Review, and The Sea Letter. She has written for the New York Times, Yankee, Boston Herald, Forbes, and elsewhere. Diana is a member of PEN, The Author’s Guild, and the Women’s National Book Association. She’s a graduate of Connecticut College and Harvard University and lives in New York City.

We Never Told:  Set in the era when unmarried women were shamed into relinquishing their newborns, We Never Told is a slice of American history that haunts us today. Those babies given up at birth did not disappear. They grew up and went searching. Today middle-aged strangers are confronting some families eager to embrace them and others that still don’t want them. Sonya is determined to unearth her glamorous mother’s secret, but when she does, she discovers that her mother was hiding something worse than those around her could ever have imagined.

Read BookTrib’s review of Diana’s latest book, We Never Told.

For more information on Diana Altman, visit her website.


Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the origins of the studio system (1992)

In Theda Bara’s Tent (2010)

We Never Told (2019)

Biggest literary influencers:

Walt Whitman, Antony Trollope, Karl Ove Knausgard

Last book read:
The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan

The book that changed your life:
Shakespeare’s Plays, a collection. No better writing exists.

Your favorite literary character:

The narrator in The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. A tour de force in point of view. We’re stuck in the mind of a butler who doesn’t understand anything. We see him making mistake after mistake and can only hope that he wakes up at last and he does, but too late. If you’ve only seen the movie, try to get it out of your head and read the novel. The movie should be banned because you’re looking AT him rather than being inside his head.

Currently working on:

A novel about an ungainly woman who can never rely on her looks or feminine charm to succeed. Competent and generous, she is the victim of circumstances again and again. Set in the American West in the wild days of Pancho Villa, my heroine from Lithuania arrives in Galveston, Texas, speaking only Yiddish.

Words to live by:
Shame is corrosive.

Advice to new and aspiring authors:
If you give up it’s because you weren’t meant to do it. Try something else. There are lots of things that are fun and you can be outdoors when you do them.

Articles / Reviews:

Cumberland River Review


The Nerd Daily

Forbes – “A Married Name Without The Hyphen”

Forbes – “Are You Looking at Me?”


“Altman’s writing is thoughtful and articulate… The author speaks with sophistication and style about the experiences of American women in the recent past.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Diana Altman’s We Never Told is a fascinatingly intimate look into an outwardly glamorous, inwardly fractured family, whose bonds are undermined by decades of secrecy. Ms. Altman’s prose is wise, comforting, absorbing, and generous. We Never Told is a deeply interesting, quietly stunning novel.”

Cintra Wilson, author of Fear and Clothing and former New York Times Critical Shopper

“The title’s true value is in Altman’s fleshing out of characters and family dynamics in a style reminiscent of Wally Lamb.”