“In 1963 thirty-four-year-old Louise Fitzhugh was fresh off a successful exhibition of her paintings and drawings at an Upper East Side gallery when she suddenly declared her fine art career a catastrophe. She’d recently illustrated the children’s book Suzuki Beane, a charming Beatnik spin on Eloise, written by her friend and sometime lover Sandra Scoppettone, and it was to children’s literature that Louise turned again. She wrote to her lifelong friend the poet James Merrill to tell him about her new book project: “It is called Harriet the Spy and is about a nasty little girl who keeps a notebook on all her friends.”
“Undercover with Louise Fitzhugh, the author of HARRIET THE SPY”
A Talk with LESLIE BRODY about Researching and Writing Biography
LESLIE BRODY, local author and University of Redlands professor of creative writing is this year’s GUEST SPEAKER at The Friends of A.K. Smiley Public Library’s Annual Membership Meeting on Sunday June 6, 2021 at 3:30 PM via ZOOM. This virtual event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Join the Zoom Meeting here https://bit.ly/3uX0oTk or by logging into the Zoom website with Meeting ID: 546 218 7291 and Passcode: 2MBPQ7
LESLIE BRODY is the author of the critically acclaimed new biography, Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy, published by Seal Press in December 2020. Her previous books include, Irrepressible, the Life and Times of Jessica Mitford and Red Star Sister.
“Brody has written a fascinating and insightful biography of a complex and fascinating personality who has inspired many living writers, including Alison Bechdel (Fun Home).”
Sometimes You Have to Lie has been nominated for an Anthony Award in the “Best Critical or Nonfiction Work” category.
I’ll be giving the Welcome Remarks for the Santa Monica Review launch and reading for the Spring 2021 issue. Sunday, April 18th, 5-6:30 pm Emcee will be Andrew Tonkovitch.
Laura Glen Louis
2 Conversations with Ann McCutchan, author of the new book (April, 2021, Norton)The Life She Wishes to Live, a Biography of Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author of The Yearling.
MAY 10 McNally Jackson, Moderator
MAY 13- Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research 5:30 PM MST, 4:30 Pacific, in an installment of their “Think and Drink” Zoom conversations.
MAY 22- Zoom Conversation with Louise Fitzhugh Book Group
JUNE 3 NYPL 96th Street Library is hosting a discussion of SYHTL-contact them for zoom link.
JULY 14-17 SYHTL has been nominated for an AGATHA in nonfiction. The AGATHAS will be awarded at the Malice and More convention. Lists of finalists can be found here
KELLY BLEWETT: Why did you want to write about Louise Fitzhugh?
LESLIE BRODY: I am exactly the same age as Harriet the Spy — that is to say, in 1963, when Harriet was 11 years old, so was I. I was born in the Bronx, and although Harriet lived in an elite quarter of Manhattan, we still shared lots of the same cultural references around New York City in the ’50s and ’60s. When the book was published in 1964, I really wasn’t reading kids’ books anymore and missed the wave. I wouldn’t even hear about Harriet and Louise until I was working as a playwright in Minneapolis 20 years later, when I was hired to write an adaptation of Harriet the Spy for the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre company. I remember reading it through several times, stunned at how lucky I was — after all this time, and the many ways our rendezvous might have gone awry — to find her.
Read the full interview HERE.
Harriet the Spy was a YA fiction inspiration who possessed all of the ethics of a TMZ reporter. A young Upper East Side miscreant, Harriet’s curiosity and ambition leads her to spy on her friends, family and neighbors, recording copious notes about their activities in her ever-present notebooks. In this way, Harriet is something of an antihero. She’s also an early example of realism in children’s literature.
In her biography, Sometimes You Have To Lie, Harriet the Spy author Louise Fitzhugh’s life proves to be just as enthralling as her legendary protagonist.
Read the full review HERE.
A new biography, Sometimes You Have To Lie by Leslie Brody delves into Fitzhugh’s personal life, including her sexuality.
In a review of the book, the New Republic discusses how the title represents one of the most controversial moments in Harriet’s story – when her nanny, Ole Golly, tells her that sometimes it’s okay to lie. This advice comes after Harriet’s notebook is found, and she struggles to apologize to those whose feelings she has hurt, since she isn’t actually sorry.
The biography’s author speculates that his empathy for lying is likely a nod to Fitzhugh’s need to lie about her own sexuality to protect herself.
Read the full review HERE.