New answers tagged nouns
My Japanese dictionaries (岩波国語辞典 and 小学館現代国語例解辞典) both have an entry for 生い立ち but not for 生い立つ, and my 古語辞典(角川 and 旺文社) both have an entry for おひたつ but not for おひたち. So I think 生い立ち came from おひたつ, and maybe おひたつ/生い立つ is now almost obsolete? Because I have never seen it used as a verb.
生い立った Is quite simply like saying "That was his personal upbringing" Instead of 生い立ち "That is his personal upbringing." It might be that the author is about to move on in the next sentence in terms of time frame for example: ....That was his upbringing. He is now 45 years old, and finds himself....
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