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LITERARY HUB

Excerpt: The Hidden Literary Heritage of Harriet the Spy

In 1963 and 1964, as Louise Fitzhugh was inventing Harriet the Spy’s world, nannies and spies were very much in the public eye. Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music were in the movie theaters. John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Ian Fleming’s James Bond books were leading hardcover and paperback bestseller lists, and Spy vs. Spy was a popular feature in Mad Magazine. Louise read these, but when it came to intrigue and mystery, she preferred the intellectual peregrinations of Dorothy L. Sayers’s detectives, Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey. Her affection for the name Harriet is obvious, and Louise herself would briefly use Peter as an alternate name. Read more…

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BOOKPAGE

Book Review: Absorbing biography of the elusive author Louise Fitzhugh

“Generations of children, and more than few adults, have embraced the antics of Harriet the Spy and its singular heroine since it was published in 1964. As Leslie Brody reports in Sometimes You Have to Lie, her absorbing biography of the elusive author Louise Fitzhugh, the classic middle grade novel sold around 2.5 million copies in its first five years, a number that is now approaching 5 million worldwide. Fitzhugh, who died at age 46 in 1974, was publicity-shy even by the more genteel standards of her day, and her literary executors have remained guarded about releasing her private papers. Faced with this estimable hurdle, Brody has succeeded admirably in reconstructing Fitzhugh’s complicated, often troubled life.” Read more…

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A.V. CLUB

Book Review: A new biography explores the rebellious, bohemian life of the author of Harriet The Spy

The 1964 children’s novel Harriet The Spy inspired an entire generation of future writers and diarists. The protagonist—an Upper East Side 11-year-old who spies on her neighbors when she’s not spending time with her stern, knowledgeable nanny, Ole Golly—stood out from the idyllic young heroes and heroines of children’s literature of the era. Harriet was opinionated, sneaky, and stubborn, and rebelled against her parents’ demands. “I’ll be damned if I go!” she says of attending dance school.

It turns out many of the roots of Harriet’s privileged existence can be found in the life of her creator, Louise Fitzhugh. Leslie Brody’s new biography, Sometimes You Have To Lie (a piece of Ole Golly dialogue), delves deep into the writer’s fascinating past. Read more…

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SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Sometimes You Have to Lie (But not in this interview): A Talk With Author Leslie Brody

“It’s the talk of the season and I couldn’t be more pleased (or surprised). When I heard that Leslie Brody (playwright, journalist, editor, professor) had penned a biography of Louise Fitzhugh, the author of Harriet the Spy, I was intrigued. It did not occur to me, however, that her book would find popularity above and beyond the children’s literary sphere. Yet even as I type this, Brody has already been reviewed by The New York Times and the book sports more famous blurbs than you can shake a stick at. As such, when the opportunity arose to interview Ms. Brody about the book I leapt at the chance…” — Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal

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LIBRARY JOURNAL

Turn the Page: 15 Editors’ Picks for Fall/Winter 2020

Library Journal is “eagerly anticipating Leslie Brody’s Sometimes You Have To Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy (Seal Press, 12/1/2020), a look at a writer who, like her heroine, lived life on her own terms. “