Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck

Pearl Buck
Pearl Buck

Time Period

1940 to Today

Notable Facts

First American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Created first multi-racial adoption center, "Welcome House", and other East/West organizations.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

06/26/1892

Date of Death

03/06/1973

Primary Residence

Winhall

Religion

Presbyterian

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Historical Significance

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker, who became famous writing under her married name, Pearl S. Buck, was born on her family's 16-acre farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries who lived in China during Buck's childhood. Buck was educated by her mother and a Chinese tutor until the family had to flee to Shanghai during the Boxer Rebellion. There she attended boarding school before going to the Randolph-Macon Women's College, in Lynchburg, VA, where she got her B.A. in 1914. In 1917, she married John Lossing Buck, an agricultural expert stationed in northern China. She later went on to get her M.A. at Cornell University in 1926.

Pearl S. Buck was the first American woman to receive both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for Literature. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932 for her novel, "Good Earth". In 1935 she also received the Howell's Medal for this novel. In 1938, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces." MGM adapted "Good Earth" into a film in 1938.

Buck was a humanist who captured life in China and focused on East/West culture clashes. She wrote her first novel, "East Wind, West Wind" in 1930, followed by "Good Earth" in 1931. Also of note are, "Sons" (1932), "A House Divided" (1935), and "The Exile" and "Fighting Angel" (1936), which are biographies of her mother and father.

Many of her novels were made into films, including: "Good Earth", "Dragon Seed", "China Sky", "Satan Never Sleeps" (based on "The China Story"), and "Pavilion of Women".

Buck lived for many years in China. She moved permanently to the U.S. in 1934. She created the first adoption center devoted to multi-racial adoption, called the Welcome House. With her first husband she adopted five children.

In 1935 Pearl Buck was divorced and remarried to her editor, Richard Walsh. In all, she was the adopted mother to nine children. With Walsh, Buck created the East and West Association in 1942. This organization was dedicated to cultural exchange between Asia and the West.

As the mother of a daughter with disabilities, Buck worked on behalf of the mentally handicapped, and published the influential book, "The Child Who Never Grew." Buck was also active in the women's rights and civil rights movements.

She created the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in 1964, which provides aid to American-Asian children fathered by men in the U.S. military.

Buck moved to Vermont in 1950, where she settled in Winhall. In 1969 she moved to Danby. In Danby, she put efforts towards improving local tourism, opening new shops, and importing Asian gift items.

In 1983,the Pearl Buck U.S. Postal Stamp was issued.

Organizations or Movements

  • Welcome House
  • East and West Association
  • Pearl S. Buck Foundation
  • Pearl S. Buck International

Occupations

  • Writer
  • Humanitarian

Education

  • BA, Randolph-Macon Women's Collge, Lynchburg, VA, (1914)
  • M.A., Cornell, (1926).

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Welcome House Link

  • University of Pennsylvania biography Link

  • Nobel Prize biography Link

  • A Biography of Pearl S. Buck Link

  • Vermont Historic Roadsite Markers Link

  • Dopp, Sara L. "Pearl S. Buck." In The Vermont Encyclopedia. Edited by John Duffy. University Press of New England, 2003.

Additional Images

Pearl S. Buck
Pearl S. Buck