Buck, Pearl Sydenstricker

Buck, Pearl Sydenstricker sīˈdənstrĭkˌər [key], 1892–1973, American author, b. Hillsboro, W.Va., grad. Randolph-Macon Women's College, 1914, the first American woman to receive (1938) the Nobel Prize in Literature. Until 1924 she lived principally in China, where she, her parents, and her first husband, John Lossing Buck, whom she married in 1917, were missionaries. She is famous for her vivid, compassionate novels about life in China. The Good Earth (1931; Pulitzer Prize), a best seller that is considered her finest work, describes a Chinese peasant's rise to wealth and brilliantly conveys a sense of the daily life of ordinary rural fieldworkers in China. Among her other novels of China are East Wind: West Wind (1930), Dragon Seed (1942), Imperial Woman (1956), and Mandala (1971). Remarkably prolific, she wrote 39 novels; 25 nonfiction works, including Fighting Angel, a biography of her father (1936), and China As I See It (1970); and numerous short stories, children's books, plays, and magazine articles. In 1935, she married her publisher, Richard J. Walsh, president of the John Day Company. In 1949 she founded Welcome House, which provided care for the children of Asian women and American soldiers; the Pearl Buck Foundation of Philadelphia, to which she consigned most of her royalties, aids in the adoption of Amerasian children.

See her autobiography, My Several Worlds (1954); biographies by T. F. Harris (2 vol., 1969–71), P. Conn (1996), and H. Spurling (2010); study by K. Liao (1997).

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