The interview begins with William Bailey describing his upbringing in rural Minnesota, where his family operated a small lumber business. An outstanding high school teacher sparked Bailey's interest in science, and he focused on chemistry during his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where Lee Irving Smith was a major influence. Smith was largely responsible for Bailey's move to Illinois for graduate work with C. S. "Speed" Marvel and subsequent research on polymer synthesis. After a year at MIT as postdoctoral assistant to Cope, Bailey began his teaching career at Wayne State University, where he undertook his noted combination of organic and polymer chemistry. Five years after going to Detroit, Bailey accepted a research professorship at the University of Maryland, where he spent the rest of his career. The interview concludes with an account of Bailey's long involvement with the American Chemical Society, including his presidency in 1975 and his thoughts on the current image of chemistry.