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Harriet the Spy (Collins Modern Classics)


Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh



"Harriet the Spy" is a children's novel by Louise Fitzhugh, first published in 1964. It chronicles the adventures of a young aspiring writer, Harriet M. Welsch, known for her keen observation skills and her ambition to become a spy.

Plot Overview

The story revolves around Harriet, an 11-year-old girl living in New York City. She maintains a notebook in which she writes brutally honest observations about her classmates, family, and neighbors. Harriet's world turns upside down when her notebook is discovered, and her secrets are exposed, leading to a backlash from her peers.


  • The Complexity of Growing Up: The novel explores the challenges of childhood, the journey of self-discovery, and the complexities of friendships and social dynamics.
  • The Power of Words: It highlights the impact of words and the responsibility that comes with them, as Harriet learns the consequences of her unfiltered observations.
  • Individuality and Nonconformity: Harriet's character embodies individuality and the courage to be different, even in the face of social pressures.


  • Harriet M. Welsch: The protagonist, known for her sharp wit and ambition.
  • Ole Golly: Harriet's nanny, who provides guidance and wisdom.
  • Harriet's Classmates: They represent various facets of childhood experiences and social interactions.


Ultimately, the novel addresses the importance of empathy and understanding. Harriet learns to balance her desire for honesty with the feelings of others, and reconciles with her friends, showcasing the resilience and adaptability of children.