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“A Biographical Sketch of one of the greatest of American novelists and writers, Pearl S. Buck, one not easily forgotten and also most memorable”

“A Biographical Sketch of one of the greatest of American novelists and writers, Pearl S. Buck, one not easily forgotten and also most memorable”


My dear fellow thinkers and readers and fellow lovers of literature and you men and women of all thoughts, ideas and opinions, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery and be one with me in the mutual engagement of critical thinking. Join with me in the mutual effort and quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment and find together what is valid and authentic in this most confused world. Come with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.

Today I have the privilege and honor of speaking of and presenting the life and works of one of the greatest of American writers and one of our greatest of novelists, Pearl S. Buck. She is perhaps presently overlooked and not sufficiently regarded and known, yet for me her books, once begun, I for one cannot put down and once read through, they engage my mind and spirit and soul as few works of prose can do.

I am a great fan of English and American literature and when I take up and read such poets as Keats, Shelley, Byron, T.S. Eliot and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelists such as Melville, Dickens, Thackeray, Conrad and Jane Austen. Once read, I am raised in my mind and consciousness to a different level and I acquire in reading and knowing these authors a different level of understanding. In coming to know them I am lifted up intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I have and will never regret the time I have spent in reading them and being exposed to them and absorbing their greatness, despite American society telling us on a constant basis that time spent with them has no practical value as producing no income. A life without this great literature is a life cheated of what these greatest of minds have to offer. 

Pearl S. Buck was born in 1892 and died in 1973. She was an American novelist and writer. She spent most of her life before 1934 in China as the daughter of missionaries. Her novel, The Good Earth, was a bestseller in 1931. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and in 1938 was awarded the Nobel Prize, the first woman to gain this prize. She returned to the United States in 1935 and continued writing. She was an advocate for the rights of women and minorities. 

She was born in West Virginia and her parents, southern Presbyterian missionaries, traveled to China in 1880 but returned to the United States for Pearl’s birth. When Pearl was five months old the family returned to China. In Shanghai Pearl was enrolled in Miss Jewell’s School. In 1911 she left China to attend Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Virginia and graduated in 1914. In 1914 Pearl returned to China and married in 1917. From 1914 to 1932 she served in a missionary. From 1920 to 1933 the Bucks made their home in Nanjing on the campus of the University of Nanking where she taught English literature, there and in several other institutions. In 1924 they left China and returned to the United States for a short time where Pearl earned a Master’s Degree from Cornell University. After violence broke out in 1927 in Nanking, the family travelled to Shanghai and then sailed to Japan where they stayed for a year. When she returned from Japan, she began to devote herself to writing. She returned to the United States to get care for her daughter Carol who was ill, and while there, John Day Publishers accepted her novel, East Wind: West Wind. Back in Nanking she completed her manuscript for her novel, The Good Earth. In 1934 the Bucks left China. They were divorced in 1935 and she married Richard Walsh that same day. The couple lived in Pennsylvania until his death in 1960. Following the communist revolution in 1949, all her attempts to return to China were refused, and she was compelled to remain in the United States for the rest of her life. She died of cancer in 1973 in Vermont. 

She wrote on many diverse subjects including women’s rights, immigration, Asian culture, adoption and missionary work. In her life she engaged in a great deal of charitable work. 

I have read only one of Buck’s writings, The Good Earth, but found it most moving in this portrait of the Chinese peasantry. I do not think I will ever forget it and at the time I read it my emotions choked and this book is facing me daily on my shelf and I surely hope soon I will read her other novels and devour them. I know they are great and i know i must find the time to read and obtain them a privilege not to be missed. Students and adults and children, go to the local public library and to Amazon and do not waste another moment in getting and reading her books. You will have no regrets in doing so.


I am indebted for the content of this essay to the article in 
Wikipedia on this writer and author.