Sunday, February 13, 2022

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy By Leslie Brody


Interesting if thin biography of Fitzhugh. There was an earlier one from 1991 by Virginia Wolf that is apparently more scholarly. This one is decidedly not. Brody does a lot of speculation about what Harriet might have done, whom she might have, how she might have felt. She does talk to secondary sources, and has some access to correspondence. Her lifelong correspondence with James Merrill and Peter Taylor would be interesting to see. But the photo section is  paltry and it seems like an entire book could be made of Fitzhugh's paintings, drawings, and illustrations. Each published book is plot summarized at length. There's a lengthy afterword explaining the tight control over her unpublished work exercised by her estate (which I would have preferred as a preface). And Fitzhugh's final years are covered in snap - she died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 1974 at the age of 46. And the decline must have been sad.

She drank too much and seemed to suffer from manic depression/bipolar. There is a real sadness behind it all that is intermittently touched upon.

Fitzhugh was a monumental figure in both her revolutionizing of children's literature, and the strong unapologetic presentation of her sexuality.

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