Pearl Buck

Pearl Buck
(1892 - 1973)

American author noted for her novels of life in China. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.
She spent her youth in China, where her parents were Presbyterian missionaries. She received her early education in Shanghai and was graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, Va., in 1914. She then returned to China and later became a university teacher in Nanking.

Her articles and stories about Chinese life first appeared in American magazines in 1923, but it was not until 1931 that she reached a wide audience with The Good Earth, which described sympathetically the struggle of a Chinese peasant and his slave-wife to gain land and position. That novel, widely translated, was followed by Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935); the trilogy was published as The House of Earth (1935).

In 1934 she was divorced from John L. Buck, a missionary; they had been married in 1917. She married Richard J. Walsh, a New York publisher, in 1935 and thereafter lived in the United States. After World War II, in a move to aid illegitimate children of U.S. servicemen in Asian countries, she instituted the Pearl S. Buck Foundation; in 1967 she turned over to the foundation most of her earnings--more than $7,000,000.

Continuing to write under the name Pearl Buck, she turned to biography with lives of her father, Absalom Sydenstricker, Fighting Angel (1936), and her mother, Caroline, The Exile (1936). Her later books include Dragon Seed (1942) and Imperial Woman (1956), novels; The First Wife and Other Stories . . . (1933), Far and Near (1947), and The Good Deed (1969), short stories; The Child Who Never Grew (1950), about her retarded daughter; and an autobiography, My Several Worlds (1954). She also wrote five novels under her pseudonym, John Sedges.

Buck's life and writings are examined in Theodore F. Harris, Pearl S. Buck, 2 vol. (1969-71), written in consultation with Buck; Paul A. Doyle, Pearl S. Buck, rev. ed. (1980); and Peter Conn, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography (1996).

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