Betty Smith

(1065 words)
  • Michael Brooks (West Chester University )

Betty Smith will always be best known for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but she wrote many plays and three other novels.

She was born Elizabeth Lillian Wehner on December 15, 1896. Carol Siri Smith (whose on-line dissertation is an essential source of information about Smith) notes that she was reluctant to admit her true age and sometimes gave dates as late as 1904 and 1906. Like Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Elizabeth Wehner grew up in Williamsburg, experienced extreme poverty, endured the early death of a beloved but improvident father, and dropped out of school to work in an artificial flower making factory and a Manhattan clipping bureau.

Although Francie never graduates from high school, t…

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Brooks, Michael. "Betty Smith". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 November 2007
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]

Articles on Smith's works

  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn