Trees Grow in Chapel Hill, Too

Betty Smith Bookplate

I found this bookplate in one of the North Carolina Collection’s copies of Hugh Lefler’s Orange County, 1752-1952 (Orange Printshop, 1953). Apparently the book belonged at one time to the library of the best-selling author to have come from Chapel Hill.

Betty Smith came to Chapel Hill in the 1930s to work with the Federal Theater. She was a prolific playwright while here, publishing many one-act plays and often working with Frederick Koch and the Carolina Playmakers. In the 1940s, Smith wrote a novel based on her childhood in Brooklyn. Published in 1943, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was an instant and enduring success, ultimately selling over six million copies.