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…