There is an unassuming kindness in Pearl S. Buck's eyes that belies her inner bulldog and her extraordinarily unique life as an American child raised in China by Christian missionary parents.
As the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Good Earth, Buck captivated American readers in the early 1930s and helped garner a Nobel Prize in Literature for her masterful biographical depictions of Chinese peasant life. But beyond her prolific literary career, Buck was a woman who spoke out and fought for causes that were before her time.
Having spent the first four decades of her life predominantly in China, Buck returned to the U.S. in the mid 1930s and advocated for Asian orphans and mixed-race children. In 1949, she co-founded Welcome House, Inc., which was the first international interracial adoption agency. She was also a women's rights activist and wrote about immigration and sex discrimination long before they became popular issues of debate.
"To serve is beautiful," Buck once said, "but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind."
As a kick start to Women's History Month and to honor Buck, who died this week on March 6, 1973, read more about her colorful life here.