The Nobel Prize in Literature 1938
(pen-name of Pearl Walsh, née Sydenstricker)
Born: 26 June 1892, Hillsboro, WV, USA
Died: 6 March 1973, Danby, VT, USA
Residence at the time of the award: USA
Prize motivation: "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces"
Pearl Buck (1892-1973) was born in
Hillsboro, West Virginia. She grew up in China, where her parents
were missionaries, but was educated at Randolph-Macon Woman's
College. After her graduation she returned to China and lived
there until 1934 with the exception of a year spent at Cornell University,
where she took an M.A. in 1926. Pearl Buck began to write in the
twenties; her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, appeared
in 1930. It was followed by The Good Earth (1931),
Sons (1932), and A House Divided (1935), together
forming a trilogy on the saga of the family of Wang. The Good
Earth stood on the American list of «best sellers»
for a long time and earned her several awards, among them the
Prize and the William Dean Howells Medal. She also published
The First Wife and Other Stories (1933), All Men are
Brothers (a translation of the Chinese novel Shui Hu
Chuan) (1933), The Mother (1934), and This Proud
Heart (1938). The biographies of her mother and father,
The Exile and Fighting Angel, were published in
1936 and later brought out together under the title of The
Spirit and the Flesh (1944). The Time Is Now, a
fictionalized account of the author's emotional experiences,
although written much earlier, did not appear in print until
Pearl Buck's works after 1938 are too many to mention. Her novels have continued to deal with the confrontation of East and West, her interest spreading to such countries as India and Korea. Her novelist's interest in the interplay of East and West has also led to some activity in political journalism.
Pearl Buck has been active in many welfare organizations; in particular she set up an agency for the adoption of Asian-American children (Welcome House, Inc.) and has taken an active interest in retarded children (The Child Who Never Grew, 1950).
From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
Pearl Buck died on March 6, 1973.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1938
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