Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

(1571 words)
  • Michael Brooks (West Chester University )

In 1940 Betty Smith (1896-1972) began submitting a manuscript entitled They Lived in Brooklyn to publishers. It was repeatedly rejected. In 1942 she submitted it to a contest at Harper and Brothers for a non-fiction book. The editors urged her to reclassify her manuscript as a novel. They also suggested that she extend her story of Francie Nolan's life, which originally ended with the death of Francie's father. Finally, they urged their author to find a new title.

The book was published the following year as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It reached a second printing before publication day and has been one of the most popular of literary classics ever since. Many young women felt that Francie Nolan's story was …

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Brooks, Michael. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 October 2007
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]