While he worked for The Times for nearly 40 years, and was the subject of a beautiful documentary, Bill was notoriously private. “He told us stories over the years, but nothing that painted a full picture of what he did and how he came to do it,” his niece Trish Simonson said. “The drafts of the memoir we found, titled and edited and written in his own unmistakable voice, filled in a lot of blanks of how he made it from here to there, and what he thought along the way.”
The book is called Fashion Climbing, and it documents so much of his life. Including how he struggled to explain his interests to his family. “It’s a crime families don’t understand how their children are oriented, and point them along their natural way,” Bill wrote in an early chapter. “My poor family was probably scared to death by all these crazy ideas I had, and so they fought my direction every inch of the way.”
“There I was, 4 years old, decked out in my sister’s prettiest dress,” it reads. “Women’s clothes were always much more stimulating to my imagination. That summer day, in 1933, as my back was pinned to the dining room wall, my eyes spattering tears all over the pink organdy full-skirted dress, my mother beat the hell out of me, and threatened every bone in my uninhibited body if I wore girls’ clothes again.”
The New York Times reports on the full discovery of the book, and you can read all about that here. Then, come September this year, you’ll be able to buy the book and pore over it forever.