This is the story of Betty Smith's life. It recounts her life growing up as a German immigrant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, her first jobs, her marriage and children, her early writing career at Ann Arbor, her training as a playwright at Yale School of Drama, her move to North Carolina to be a part of the WPA Federal Theater Project, the years writing the novel, the overnight success, the stress of success and pressure to produce more novels, the films made from her novels, her Broadway Production, her later marriages and, finally, her declining years in her chosen home, Chapel Hill.
The sources are as accurate as possible, but there are many places where the autobiography inherent in her fiction is used as descriptions of her past. In this section of the website, I have not included footnotes. All of the material comes from letters, newspaper articles, interviews personal writings and unpublished manuscripts. There is also now a published biography, BETTY SMITH: Life of the Author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Valerie Raleigh Yow.
Enjoy the story.
Carol Siri Johnson © 2003