Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1938
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."
Prize share: 1/1
Pearl Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia in the United States. She grew up in China, where her parents served as missionaries. She was raised bilingual, speaking both Chinese and English. After several years of study at college in the US, she returned to China, where she lived until 1934. She later resettled to Pennsylvania. Pearl Buck was involved in a number of social causes. The project she devoted most time to alongside her writing was the establishment of an adoption agency, Welcome House Inc., which opened in 1949.
Pearl Buck's first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published in 1930. It was followed by the trilogy of The Good Earth (1931), Sons (1932), and A House Divided (1935), which is a saga about the Wang family. These books gave Pearl Buck her major literary breakthrough. They were highly acclaimed and very popular during the 1930s. The recurring theme in her many novels is everyday life in China. She describes a rich gallery of characters, trapped between tradition and modernity.
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