- NAME: Pearl S. Buck
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Women's Rights Activist, Author
- BIRTH DATE: June 26, 1892
- DEATH DATE: March 06, 1973
- EDUCATION: Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Cornell University, Yale University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Hillsboro, West Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Danby, Vermont
- AKA: Sai Zhenzhu
- Originally: Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker
- Full Name: Pearl Sydenstricker Buck
- AKA: Pearl S. Buck
- AKA: Pearl Buck
Best Known For
Prolific author Pearl S. Buck earned a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Good Earth. She was also the first female to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.
While growing up in China as a missionary, Pearl S. Buck was uniquely positioned to write about the Chinese people and bridge the gap between Americans and the Chinese. Video courtesy of Open Road Media.
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Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. In 1930, she published her first novel, East Wind, West Wind. Her next novel, The Good Earth, earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, Buck became the first female Nobel laureate. Concurrent with her writing career, she started the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, a humanitarian organization. She died on March 6, 1973, in Danby, Vermont.
"In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write."
Pearl S. Buck was born Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. At the time of her birth, her parents, both Presbyterian missionaries, were taking a leave from their work in China after some of Buck's older siblings had died of tropical disease. Buck's parents were so committed to their missionary work that they decided to go back to the Chinese village of Chinkiang with 5-month-old Pearl in tow.
Beginning at the age of 6, Buck was homeschooled by her mother for the early part of the day, and taught by a Chinese tutor during the afternoon. When she was 9 years old, the Boxer Rebellion forced Buck and her family to flee to Shanghai. Although her family returned to Chinkiang when the rebellion ended in 1901, Buck decided to attend boarding school in Shanghai in 1907. She completed her course load in 1909, moving back to the United States in 1910 to study philosophy at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia. After earning her bachelor's degree, Buck was offered a position as a psychology professor at her alma mater. A semester later, Buck returned to China to take care of her mother, who had fallen ill.
Back in China, Buck fell in love with an agricultural missionary named John Lossing Buck. The two were married in 1917. They spent most of their early marriage living in Nanking, where John taught agricultural theory. Buck too returned for a while to teach at universities; this time, English was her subject of expertise. But Buck spent the majority of her time in Nanking caring for her mentally disabled daughter, Carol, who was born in 1920. In 1925, Buck returned to America to pursue her master's degree in English at Cornell University. In 1929, she enrolled Carol at the Vineyard Training School in New Jersey.
Pearl and John would eventually divorce in 1935, when she left him to marry Richard Walsh, her publishing agent. Though she let go of John Buck, she would keep his last name for the rest of her life.
After graduate school, Pearl S. Buck returned to China yet again. It was 1926, both of her parents were ailing, and her family's finances were in dire straits. Buck decided to start writing in hopes of earning a better living.
In 1930, Buck published her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, focusing on China's difficult transition from old traditions to a new way of life. Her next and perhaps best-known novel, The Good Earth, earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 1932. The Good Earth highlights the life of Chinese peasants, a life that Buck had been privy to growing up in Chinkiang.
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"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
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