Pearl S. Buck

Brief biography

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck [June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973]

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973), was an American writer and novelist. She is best known for The Good Earth which was the best-selling novel in the United States in 1931 and 1932 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, Buck won the Nobel Prize in Literature for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China  and for her masterpieces two memoir-biographies of her missionary parents. She was the first American woman to win that prize.

Early Life

Buck was born in West Virginia, but in October 1892, her parents took their 4-month-old baby to China. As the daughter of missionaries and later as a missionary herself, Buck spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, with her parents, and in Nanjing, with her first husband. She and her parents spent their summers in a villa in Kuling, Mountain Lu, Jiujiang, and it was during this annual pilgrimage that the young girl decided to become a writer. She graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, then returned to China. From 1914 to 1932, after marrying John Lossing Buck, she served as a Presbyterian missionary, but she came to doubt the need for foreign missions. After returning to the United States in 1935, she married the publisher Richard J. Walsh and continued writing prolifically. She became an activist and prominent advocate of the rights of women and racial equality, and wrote widely on Chinese and Asian cultures, becoming particularly well known for her efforts on behalf of Asian and mixed-race adoption.

Career in China

Although Buck had not intended to return to China, much less become a missionary, she quickly applied to the Presbyterian Board when her father wrote that her mother was seriously ill. In 1914, Buck returned to China. She married an agricultural economist missionary, John Lossing Buck, on May 13,1917, and they moved to Suzhou, Anhui Province, a small town on the Huai River…This is the region she describes in her books The Good Earth and Sons. From 1920 to 1933, the Bucks made their home in Nanjing, on the campus of the University of Nanking, where they both had teaching positions. She taught English literature at this private, church-run university, and also at Ginling College and at the National Central University.

Humanitarian efforts and later life

Buck was committed to a range of issues that were largely ignored by her generation. Many of her life experiences and political views are described in her novels, short stories, fiction, children’s stories, and the biographies of her parents entitled Fighting Angel and The Exile.

The Stulting House at the Pearl Buck Birthplace in Hillsboro, West Virginia

 She wrote on diverse subjects, including women’s rights, Asian cultures, immigration, adoption, missionary work, war, the atomic bomb (Command the Morning), and violence…long before it was considered fashionable or politically safe to do so… Buck combined the careers of wife, mother, author, editor, international spokesperson, and political activist…In the late 1960s, Buck toured West Virginia to raise money to preserve her family farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Today the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace is a historic house museum and cultural center. She hoped the house would “belong to everyone who cares to go there, and serve as a gateway to new thoughts and dreams and ways of life.”


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia