Harriet the Spy Background

Harriet the Spy Background

Harriet The Spy is a children's novel written and illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh. Published in 1964,it was an immediate hit and has been called a classic, appearing on three national lists of the best children's novels of all time.

The novel tells the story of Harriet M. Welsch, a precocious 11-year-old who writes down her observations about her friends in her notebook; these observations are not always kind and when her friends find her notebook and read it they are hurt and angry, ostracizing Harriet and finding ways to get back at her. Because of its sharp portrayal of childhood politics the book was critically acclaimed but it was also banned from many schools and libraries because it was felt that the characters were all disagreeable and that it would set a bad example to children, teaching them to bully, lie, talk back and curse.

Although Harriet's sexual identity is never stated lesbians have strongly associated with her character due to her being an outsider and dressing like a boy which was not common in 1964. This might have more to do with the author than the novel's eponymous character as Louise Fitzhugh was a lesbian and gender rights advocate.

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