Sometimes You Have to Lie
The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy
In this inspiring biography, discover the true story of Harriet the Spy author Louise Fitzhugh — and learn about the woman behind one of literature's most beloved heroines.
Harriet the Spy, first published in 1964, has mesmerized generations of readers and launched a million diarists. Its beloved antiheroine, Harriet, is erratic, unsentimental, and endearing — very much like the woman who created her, Louise Fitzhugh.
Born in 1928, Fitzhugh was raised in segregated Memphis, but she soon escaped her cloistered world and headed for New York, where her expanded milieu stretched from the lesbian bars of Greenwich Village to the art world of postwar Europe, and her circle of friends included members of the avant-garde like Maurice Sendak and Lorraine Hansberry. Fitzhugh's novels, written in an era of political defiance, are full of resistance: to authority, to conformity, and even — radically, for a children's author — to make-believe.
As a children's author and a lesbian, Fitzhugh was often pressured to disguise her true nature. Sometimes You Have to Lie tells the story of her hidden life and of the creation of her masterpiece, which remains long after her death as a testament to the complicated relationship between truth, secrecy, and individualism.
"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, author of Fun Home
"Harriet the Spy 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 of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
"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 and Egg & Spoon
"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 Louise 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 Anne 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 M.F.K. Fisher
"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, author of the Rotten Ralph series