An American novelist and dramatist, she is most famous for her 1943 work, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Her other works include Tomorrow Will Be Better (1947) and Joy in the Morning (1963).
She grew up in Brooklyn, New York City, as the daughter of German immigrants. Her childhood experiences deeply influenced her famous debut novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
She received both a Rockefeller Fellowship and a Dramatists Guild Fellowship.
With her first husband, George H.E. Smith, she had two daughters. She married her second husband, Joseph Jones, in 1943.
Her novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, was made into a feature film by director Elia Kazan.