SIMON, KATE (1912–1990), U.S. memoirist and travel writer. Born in Warsaw as Kaila Grobsmith to David and Lonia (Babicz) Grobsmith, Simon immigrated to New York City at the age of four with her mother and brother, joining her father, a cobbler, who had arrived three years earlier. Married twice, Simon wrote under the name of her second husband, Robert Simon, from whom she was divorced in 1960. Simon received a B.A. from Hunter College and held various editorial positions. Her first book, New York Places and Pleasures (1959), written in a lively style and filled with little-known facts and unusual destinations, remains a classic guide to New York City. Simon wrote similar highly popular travel guides to Italy, London, Mexico, and Paris in the Places and Pleasures series between 1963 and 1978. Simon's three memoirs, Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood (1982), A Wider World: Portraits of an Adolescence (1986), and Etchings in an Hourglass (1990), describe her childhood, youth, and adulthood, recounting her intellectual and social journey from the confines of a poor, ethnically mixed neighborhood to a cosmopolitan life of adventuresome travel. Simon's autobiographical writings bring a strong and unsentimental feminist focus to the Jewish immigrant experience. They are unusual in their frank depictions of such topics as sexuality and its ramifications, including child molestation and the lack of reliable birth control methods; familial discord; abandonment of religious tradition; her involvement in left wing politics; and the personal tragedies Simon experienced, including the deaths of her first husband, her daughter, and her sister from brain tumors, and the failure of her second marriage in the late 1950s. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Simon, Kate," in: Encyclopedia Britannica; M. Galchinsky. "Simon, Kate," in: P.E. Hyman and D.D. Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, vol. 2 (1997), 1261–62. (Judith R. Baskin (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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