Sometimes You Have to Lie

The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy

The true story of trailblazing author Louise Fitzhugh, whose beloved antiheroine in Harriet The Spy, inspired generations of readers and launched a million journal-keepers. 

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Available December 1, 2020. Pre-order now!

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I’ve never been more intensely curious about a writer’s life, nor more thwarted in finding anything out about that life, than I have been in the case of Louise Fitzhugh. At some point I deduced that the very lack of information likely answered my most burning question—was she a lesbian? But that was little preparation for the true story. What a lesbian! And what a life! Leslie Brody serves up an almost unbearably gratifying tale in her much-anticipated biography, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE. Southern Gothic childhood. Escape to Greenwich Village and Europe. Famous friends. String of lovers. Cross-dressing. Publishing gossip. Even a lost manuscript. I was especially pleased to learn so much about the painting career of this groundbreaking writer who considered herself just as much a visual artist. I only wish Brody’s book, and Fitzhugh’s life, had been much, much longer.”

—Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of Fun Home

It has taken a really good spy, in Leslie Brody, to come up with the story we’ve been waiting to get our hands on for all our reading lifetimes. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE does the greatest honor to Louise Fitzhugh and her brilliant avatar, Harriet the Spy: It tells the truth.”

Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked

Harriet the Spy, the creation of Louise Fitzhugh, was a tough, smart, vulnerable, funny, unsentimental, and deeply observant little kid who was a born writer, much like her creator, the wonderful Louise Fitzhugh. She was a heroine unlike any children’s book heroine who preceded her. If you loved Harriet, if you still think about her from time to time, you will love this book.”

—Roz Chast, author and staff cartoonist for The New Yorker

When you read SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE, you become like Harriet, spying on Louise Fitzhugh. This wonderfully written biography lets readers walk in Louise’s footsteps, as if taking notes on countless details of her complicated, rich life.”

—Jack Gantos, illustrator and author of the Newberry Medal Award-winning Dead End in Norvelt

With clear-eyed compassion, Leslie Brody pulls back the curtain to reveal the complex, delicate, fierce woman whose imagination created our beloved Harriet the Spy, and so much more. I was fascinated and moved by Fitzhugh’s struggles to be and do and have all she desired, and I feel richer for the experience of getting to know her.”

—Therese Fowler, author of Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

What a role model Harriet the Spy was for a kid: whip-smart, curious, and bold. It turns out her creator, Louise Fitzhugh, was just as daring. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE is a rollicking and insightful biography about a modern literary heroine.”

—Anne Zimmerman, author of An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of MFK Fisher

In dazzling detail, [Leslie Brody] brings Fitzhugh’s intersecting circles of literary, artistic and theatrical friends to life, and spotlights the many gay authors and illustrators whose combined talents created a golden age of children’s literature.”

Suzy Staubach, former President of NEBA, VP of the ABA, and Manager of the UConn Co-op

About Leslie Brody

Leslie Brody is a playwright, journalist and and well-regarded biographer known for revealing the stories of delightfully complicated feminists in modern history.

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