“Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first time; or the last time.” – Betty Smith
Born in Brooklyn, in 1896, Smith wrote one of the all-time best sellers A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith started writing in her 30s after putting her husband through school while also raising 2 young daughters. She studied journalism and creative writing at the University of Michigan after convincing the Dean to allow her to audit classes even though she had never gone beyond 8th grade.
She became among the most “listened to” students in her college classes because she literally spoke with a voice from life experiences. She lived life intensely and cared passionately about matters that others could only guess at, and her professors recognized that fact. Ultimately she was rewarded with full admittance and Michigan’s prestigious Avery Hopwood Award, the most prestigious writing prize bestowed by the University.
In 1928, Smith started writing for newspapers and news syndicates, eventually moving into creative writing and penning A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The 1943 novel also became a hit movie, winning the 1945 Academy Award. Between then and 1963, she wrote three more best sellers, including Joy in the Morning, another top-grossing book and movie.
Ever an optimist, Smith, who died in 1972, said “I came to a clear conclusion, and it is a universal one: To live, to struggle, to be in love with life – in love with all life holds, joyful or sorrowful – is fulfillment. The fullness of life is open to all of us.”
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