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Pearl S. Buck (June 26, 1892 - March 6, 1973) also known as Sai Zhen Zhu, was a prolific American sinologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer. She wrote also with the pen name of John Sedges. In 1938, she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces." With no irony, she has been described in China as a Chinese writer.

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia to Caroline (Stulting; 1857-1921) and Absalom Sydenstricker, a Southern Presbyterian missionary. The family was sent to Zhenjiang, China in 1892 when Pearl was 3 months old. She was raised in China and was tutored by a Confucian scholar named Mr. Kung. She was taught English as a second language by her mother and tutor.

The Boxer Uprising greatly affected Pearl Buck and her family. Buck wrote that during this time, …her eight-year-old childhood … split apart. Her Chinese friends deserted her and her family, and there were not as many Western visitors as there once were. The streets [of China] were alive with rumors- many … based on fact- of brutality to missionaries … Buck’s father was a missionary, so Buck’s mother, her little sister, and herself were …evacuated to the relative safety of Shanghai, where they spent nearly a year as refugees… (The Good Earth, Introduction) In July 1901, Buck and her family sailed to San Francisco. Not until the following year did the Sydenstrickers return to China.

In 1910, she left China once again for America to attend Randolph-Macon Woman's College, where she would earn her degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1914. She then returned to China and married an agricultural economist missionary, John Lossing Buck, on May 13, 1917. She lived with him in Suzhou, Anhui, a small town on the Huai River ( There are two cities in China with the same English name Suzhou, one in Anhui while the more famous one in Jiangsu. The one where the Bucks had spent several years was in Anhui). It is the region she described later in The Good Earth; her book was very much based on her experience in Suzhou, Anhui. She served in China as a Presbyterian missionary from 1914 until 1933. Her views later became highly controversial in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy, leading to her resignation as a missionary.

In 1920, she and John had a daughter, Carol, who was afflicted with phenylketonuria. The small family then moved to Nanjing, where Pearl taught English literature at the University of Nanking. In 1925, the Bucks adopted Janice (later surnamed Walsh). In 1926, she left China and returned to the United States for a short time in order to earn her Masters degree from Cornell University.

From 1920 to 1933, Pearl and John made their home in Nanking (Nanjing), on the campus of Nanking University, where both had teaching positions. In 1921, Pearl's mother died, and shortly afterwards her father moved in with the Bucks. The tragedies and dislocations which Pearl suffered in the 1920s reached a climax in March 1927, in the violence known as the "Nanking Incident." In a confused battle involving elements of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist troops, Communist forces, and assorted warlords, several Westerners were murdered. The Bucks spent a terrified day in hiding, after which they were rescued by American gunboats. After a trip downriver to Shanghai, the Buck family sailed to Unzen, Japan, where they spent the following year. They later moved back to Nanking, though conditions remained dangerously unsettled.

In 1935 Buck divorced her first husband and married her publisher and the president of John Day Company, Richard Walsh, with whom she moved to Pennsylvania. Buck bought a sixty-acre homestead she called Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Green Hills Farm is where Buck spent thirty-eight years of her life, raising her family, writing, pursuing humanitarian interests, and gardening. She completed many works while living in Pennsylvania, such as This Proud Heart (1938), The Patriot (1939), Today and Forever (1941), and The Child Who Never Grew (1950).

Buck was an extremely passionate activist for human rights. In 1949, outraged that existing adoption services considered Asian and mixed-race children unadoptable, Pearl established Welcome House, Inc., the first international, interracial adoption agency. In the nearly five decades of its work, Welcome House has assisted in the placement of more than five thousand children. In 1964, to provide support for Asian-American children who were not eligible for adoption, Buck also established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which provides sponsorship funding for thousands of children in half a dozen Asian countries. When establishing the Opportunity House Foundation to support child sponsorship programs in Asia, Buck said, "The purpose...is to publicize and eliminate injustices and prejudices suffered by children, who, because of their birth, are not permitted to enjoy the educational, social, economic and civil privileges normally accorded to children."

While the historic site works to preserve and display artifacts from her profoundly multicultural life, many of Buck's life experiences are also described in her novels, short stories, fiction, and children's stories. Through them she sought to prove to her readers that universality of mankind can exist if man accepts it. She dealt with many topics including women's rights, emotions (in general), Asian cultures, immigration, adoption, and conflicts that many people go through in life.

Pearl S. Buck died of lung cancer on March 6, 1973 in Danby, Vermont and was interred in Green Hills Farm in Perkasie. She designed her own tombstone, which does not record her name in English; instead, the grave marker is inscribed with Chinese characters representing the name Pearl Sydenstricker.

Pearl S. Buck's Books on Amazon: Pearl S. Buck

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_S._Buck

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
jess_faraday
Mar. 6th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
I read her Good Earth series in high school. I absolutely adored those books.
elisa_rolle
Mar. 6th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
I have a very old Italian version of it, and even another book they sold as Romance, but it was really not.

Elisa
kirby_crow
Mar. 6th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for blogging about one of my most beloved writers of all time. :)
elisa_rolle
Mar. 6th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
You are welcome, I like to repost the bio of these old fashioned authors, even if they are not the most followed in my LJ, but maybe, between an erotic romance and a fantasy, the eye will catch also a good classic. Elisa
Ryan Field
Mar. 9th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
I've read most of her work. Her farm in Perkasie, Buck County, is only about ten miles from my home and I've been there many times. A very nice old Pennsylvania farm house.
elisa_rolle
Mar. 9th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
i would love to visit it, maybe next time ;-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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