North Carolina meets Betty Smith’s Brooklyn

On this day in 1943: Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” destined to become one of the best-selling novels of all time, hits bookstore shelves across the state.

The author is a former Brooklyn telephone operator who arrived in Chapel Hill on a bus with her two young daughters in 1938. She came only to study play writing at the university but makes Chapel Hill her home.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” a warm, coming-of-age story set in a city slum, was rejected by 12 publishing houses before being accepted by Harper and Bros. It will also be made into a movie and a Broadway play.

Although she will die in a Connecticut convalescent home in 1972, Betty Smith returns to be buried in the Chapel Hill Cemetery.

[Betty Smith, inventor of the “beat cop”?]