Sometimes You Have to Lie (Hardcover)

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

By Leslie Brody

Seal Press, 9781580057691, 352pp.

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

List Price: 30.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


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.

About the Author

Leslie Brody is a biographer, playwright, and professor of creative writing. She adapted Harriet the Spy for the stage in 1988 and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award and a PEN America award for creative nonfiction. She has been an on-staff book columnist for Elle magazine. She lives in Redlands, California.

Praise For Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy

"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

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

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