Pearl S. Buck

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Pearl Sydenstricker Buck
Pearl Buck 1972.jpg
Pearl Buck, c. 1972
Born Pearl Sydenstricker
(1892-06-26)June 26, 1892
Hillsboro, West Virginia, U.S.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Danby, Vermont, U.S.
Resting place Green Hills Farm Grounds, Perkasie, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Writer, teacher
Nationality American
Alma mater
Subject English
Notable awards Pulitzer Prize
Nobel Prize in Literature
Spouse John Lossing Buck (1917–1935)
Richard J. Walsh (1935–1960) until his death

Pearl S. Buck
Traditional Chinese 賽珍珠
Simplified Chinese 赛珍珠
Literal meaning Precious Pearl Sy'

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973), also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu (Chinese: ), was an American writer and novelist. As the daughter of missionaries, Buck spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China. Her novel The Good Earth was the best-selling fiction book in the United States in 1931 and 1932 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces".[1] She was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

After returning to the United States in 1935, she continued writing prolifically, became a prominent advocate of the rights of women and minority groups, and wrote widely on Chinese and Asian cultures, becoming particularly well known for her efforts on behalf of Asian and mixed-race adoption.

Early life

The Stulting House at the Pearl Buck Birthplace in Hillsboro, West Virginia

Originally named Comfort by her parents,[2] Pearl Sydenstricker was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, United States, to Caroline Maude (Stulting) (1857–1921) and Absalom Sydenstricker. Her parents, Southern Presbyterian missionaries, traveled to China soon after their marriage on July 8, 1880, but returned to the United States for Pearl's birth. When Pearl was five months old, the family arrived in China, first in Huai'an and then in 1896 moved to Zhenjiang (then often known as Jingjiang or, in the Chinese postal romanization system, Tsingkiang), near Nanking.[3]

Of her siblings who survived into adulthood, Edgar Sydenstricker had a distinguished career with the United States Public Health Service and later the Milbank Memorial Fund and Grace Sydenstricker Yaukey (1899–1994) was a writer who wrote young adult books and books about Asia under the pen name Cornelia Spencer.[4][5]

Pearl recalled in her memoir that she lived in "several worlds", one a "small, white, clean Presbyterian world of my parents", and the other the "big, loving merry not-too-clean Chinese world", and there was no communication between them.[6] The Boxer Uprising greatly affected the family; their Chinese friends deserted them, and Western visitors decreased. Her father, convinced that no Chinese could wish him harm, stayed behind as the rest of the family went to Shanghai for safety. A few years later, Pearl was enrolled in Miss Jewell's School there and was dismayed at the racist attitudes of the other students, few of whom could speak any Chinese. Both of her parents felt strongly that Chinese were their equals (they forbade the use of the word heathen), and she was raised in a bilingual environment: tutored in English by her mother, in the local dialect by her Chinese playmates, and in classical Chinese by a Chinese scholar named Mr. Kung. She also read voraciously, especially, in spite of her father's disapproval, the novels of Charles Dickens, which she later said she read through once a year for the rest of her life.[7]

In 1911, Pearl left China to attend Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1914 and a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. Although she had not intended to return to China, much less become a missionary, she quickly applied to the Presbyterian Board when her father wrote that her mother was seriously ill. From 1914 to 1932, she served as a Presbyterian missionary, but her views later became highly controversial during the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy, leading to her resignation.[8]

Career in China

In 1914, Pearl returned to China. She married an agricultural economist missionary, John Lossing Buck, on May 30, 1917, and they moved to Suzhou, Anhui Province, a small town on the Huai River (not to be confused with the better-known Suzhou in Jiangsu Province). This is the region she describes in her books The Good Earth and Sons.

From 1920 to 1933, the Bucks made their home in Nanjing, on the campus of the University of Nanking, where they both had teaching positions. She taught English literature at the private, church-run University of Nanking,[9] Ginling College and at the National Central University. In 1920, the Bucks had a daughter, Carol, afflicted with phenylketonuria. In 1921, Buck's mother died of a tropical disease, sprue, and shortly afterward her father moved in. In 1924, they left China for John Buck's year of sabbatical and returned to the United States for a short time, during which Pearl Buck earned her master's degree from Cornell University. In 1925, the Bucks adopted Janice (later surnamed Walsh). That autumn, they returned to China.[8]

The tragedies and dislocations that Buck suffered in the 1920s reached a climax in March 1927, during 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. Since her father Absalom insisted, as he had in 1900 in the face of the Boxers, the family decided to stay in Nanjing until the battle reached the city. When violence broke out, a poor Chinese family invited them to hide in their hut while the family house was looted. The family spent a day terrified and in hiding, after which they were rescued by American gunboats. They traveled to Shanghai and then sailed to Japan, where they stayed for a year, after which they moved back to Nanjing. Buck later said that this year in Japan showed her that not all Japanese were militarists. When she returned from Japan in late 1927, Buck devoted herself in earnest to the vocation of writing. Friendly relations with prominent Chinese writers of the time, such as Xu Zhimo and Lin Yutang, encouraged her to think of herself as a professional writer. She wanted to fulfill the ambitions denied to her mother, but she also needed money to support herself if she left her marriage, which had become increasingly lonely, and since the mission board could not provide it, she also needed money for Carol's specialized care. Buck traveled once more to the United States in 1929 to find long-term care for Carol, and while there, Richard J. Walsh, editor at John Day publishers in New York, accepted her novel East Wind: West Wind. She and Walsh began a relationship that would result in marriage and many years of professional teamwork. Back in Nanking, she retreated every morning to the attic of her university bungalow and within the year completed the manuscript for The Good Earth.[10]

Pearl Buck in 1932, about the time The Good Earth was published
Photo: Arnold Genthe

When John Lossing Buck took the family to Ithaca the next year, Pearl accepted an invitation to address a luncheon of Presbyterian women at the Astor Hotel in New York City. Her talk was titled "Is There a Case for the Foreign Missionary?" and her answer was a barely qualified "no". She told her American audience that she welcomed Chinese to share her Christian faith, but argued that China did not need an institutional church dominated by missionaries who were too often ignorant of China and arrogant in their attempts to control it. When the talk was published in Harper's Magazine,[11] the scandalized reaction led Buck to resign her position with the Presbyterian Board. In 1934, Buck left China, believing she would return,[12] while John Lossing Buck remained.[13]

Career in the United States

In 1935 the Bucks divorced in Reno, Nevada,[14] and she married Richard Walsh that same day.[12] He offered her advice and affection which, her biographer concludes, "helped make Pearl's prodigious activity possible". The couple lived in Pennsylvania until his death in 1960.[10]

During the Cultural Revolution, Buck, as a preeminent American writer of Chinese village life, was denounced as an "American cultural imperialist".[15] Buck was "heartbroken" when she was prevented from visiting China with Richard Nixon in 1972. Her 1962 novel Satan Never Sleeps described the Communist tyranny in China. Following the Communist Revolution in 1949, Buck was repeatedly refused all attempts to return to her beloved China and therefore was compelled to remain in the United States for the rest of her life.[12]

Pearl S. Buck died of lung cancer on March 6, 1973, in Danby, Vermont, and was interred in Green Hills Farm in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. She designed her own tombstone. Her name was not inscribed in English on her tombstone. Instead, the grave marker is inscribed with Chinese characters representing the name Pearl Sydenstricker.[16]

Nobel Prize in Literature

In 1938 the Nobel Prize committee in awarding the prize said:

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By awarding this year's Prize to Pearl Buck for the notable works which pave the way to a human sympathy passing over widely separated racial boundaries and for the studies of human ideals which are a great and living art of portraiture, the Swedish Academy feels that it acts in harmony and accord with the aim of Alfred Nobel's dreams for the future.[17]

In her speech to the Academy, she took as her topic "The Chinese Novel." She explained, "I am an American by birth and by ancestry", but "my earliest knowledge of story, of how to tell and write stories, came to me in China." After an extensive discussion of classic Chinese novels, especially Romance of the Three Kingdoms, All Men Are Brothers, and Dream of the Red Chamber, she concluded that in China "the novelist did not have the task of creating art but of speaking to the people." Her own ambition, she continued, had not been trained toward "the beauty of letters or the grace of art." In China, the task of the novelist differed from the Western artist: "To farmers he must talk of their land, and to old men he must speak of peace, and to old women he must tell of their children, and to young men and women he must speak of each other." And like the Chinese novelist, she concluded, "I have been taught to want to write for these people. If they are reading their magazines by the million, then I want my stories there rather than in magazines read only by a few."[18]

Humanitarian efforts and later life

Buck was highly committed to a range of issues that were largely ignored by her generation. Many of her life experiences and political views are described in her novels, short stories, fiction, children's stories, and the biographies of her parents entitled Fighting Angel (on Absalom) and The Exile (on Carrie). She wrote on diverse subjects, including women's rights, Asian cultures, immigration, adoption, missionary work, war, the atomic bomb (Command the Morning), and violence.

Pearl S. Buck receives the Nobel Prize for Literature from King Gustav V of Sweden in the Stockholm Concert Hall in 1938

She was involved in the charity relief campaign for the victims of the 1931 China floods, writing a series of short stories describing the plight of refugees, which were broadcast on the radio in the United States and later published in her collected volume The First Wife and Other Stories.[19] In 1949, outraged that existing adoption services considered Asian and mixed-race children unadoptable, Buck co-founded Welcome House, Inc.,[20] the first international, interracial adoption agency, along with James A. Michener, Oscar Hammerstein II and his second wife Dorothy Hammerstein. In nearly five decades of work, Welcome House has placed over five thousand children. In 1964, to support children who were not eligible for adoption, Buck established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation (name changed to Pearl S. Buck International in 1999)[21] to "address poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries." In 1964, she opened the Opportunity Center and Orphanage in South Korea, and later offices were opened in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. When establishing Opportunity House, 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."[22]

In 1960, after a long decline in health, her husband Richard died. She renewed a warm relation with William Ernest Hocking, who died in 1966. Buck then withdrew from many of her old friends and quarreled with others. In 1962 Buck asked the Israeli Government for clemency for Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal who was complicit in the deaths of five million Jews during WWII.[23] In the late 1960s, Buck toured West Virginia to raise money to preserve her family farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Today the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace is a historic house museum and cultural center.[24] She hoped the house would "belong to everyone who cares to go there," and serve as a "gateway to new thoughts and dreams and ways of life."[25]

Long before it was considered fashionable or politically safe to do so, Buck challenged the American public by raising consciousness on topics such as racism, sex discrimination and the plight of Asian war children. During her life, Buck combined the careers of wife, mother, author, editor, international spokesperson, and political activist.[26]

Final years

In the mid-1960s, Buck increasingly came under the influence of Theodore Harris, a former dance instructor, who became her confidant, co-author, and financial advisor. She soon depended on him for all her daily routines, and placed him in control of Welcome House and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. Harris, who was given a lifetime salary as head of the foundation, created a scandal for Buck when he was accused of mismanaging the foundation, diverting large amounts of the foundation's funds for his friends' and his own personal expenses, and treating staff poorly.[27][28] Buck defended Harris, stating that he was "very brilliant, very high strung and artistic."[27] Before her death Buck signed over her foreign royalties and her personal possessions to Creativity Inc., a foundation controlled by Harris, leaving her children a relatively small percentage of her estate.[29]


Buck died of lung cancer on March 6, 1973. After her death, Buck's children contested the will and accused Harris of exerting "undue influence" on Buck during her final few years. Harris failed to appear at trial and the court ruled in the family's favor.[28][30]


File:Pearl Buck Former Residence in Nanjing University.jpg
Pearl S. Buck's former residence at Nanjing University
File:Statue of Pearl S. Buck.jpg
A statue of Pearl S. Buck stands in front of the former residence at Nanjing University

Many contemporary reviewers were positive and praised her "beautiful prose", even though her "style is apt to degenerate into over-repetition and confusion".[31] Robert Benchley wrote a parody of The Good Earth that focused on just these qualities. Peter Conn, in his biography of Buck, argues that despite the accolades awarded to her, Buck's contribution to literature has been mostly forgotten or deliberately ignored by America's cultural gatekeepers.[32] Kang Liao argues that Buck played a "pioneering role in demythologizing China and the Chinese people in the American mind".[33] Phyllis Bentley, in an overview of Buck's work published in 1935, was altogether impressed: "But we may say at least that for the interest of her chosen material, the sustained high level of her technical skill, and the frequent universality of her conceptions, Mrs. Buck is entitled to take rank as a considerable artist. To read her novels is to gain not merely knowledge of China but wisdom about life."[34] These works aroused considerable popular sympathy for China, and helped foment a more critical view of Japan and its aggression.

Chinese-American author Anchee Min said she "broke down and sobbed" after reading The Good Earth for the first time as an adult, which she had been forbidden to read growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Min said Buck portrayed the Chinese peasants "with such love, affection and humanity" and it inspired Min's novel Pearl of China (2010), a fictional biography about Buck.[35]

In 1973, Buck was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[36] Buck was honored in 1983 with a 5¢ Great Americans series postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service[37] In 1999 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women's History Project.[38]

Buck's former residence at Nanjing University is now the Sai Zhenzhu Memorial House along the West Wall of the university's north campus. U.S. President George H. W. Bush toured the Pearl S. Buck House in October 1998. He expressed that he, like millions of other Americans, had gained an appreciation for the Chinese people through Buck's writing.[39]

Pearl Buck's papers and literary manuscripts are currently housed at Pearl S. Buck International[40] and the West Virginia & Regional History Center.[41]

Selected bibliography

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  • My Several Worlds: A Personal Record (New York: John Day, 1954)
  • My Several Worlds – abridged for younger readers by Cornelia Spencer (New York: John Day, 1957)
  • A Bridge for Passing (New York: John Day, 1962) – autobiographical account of the filming of Buck's children's book, The Big Wave


Pearl Buck


  • East Wind: West Wind (New York: John Day, 1930)[43] – working title Winds of Heaven
  • The Good Earth (New York: John Day, 1931); The House of Earth trilogy #1 – made into a feature film The Good Earth (MGM, 1937)
  • Sons (New York: John Day, 1933); The House of Earth trilogy #2; serialized in Cosmopolitan (4–11/1932)
  • A House Divided (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1935); The House of Earth trilogy #3
  • The House of Earth (trilogy) (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1935) – includes: The Good Earth, Sons, A House Divided
  • All Men Are Brothers (New York: John Day, 1933) – a translation by Buck of the Chinese classical prose epic Water Margin (Shui Hu Zhuan)
  • The Mother (New York: John Day, 1933) – serialized in Cosmopolitan (7/1933–1/1934)
  • This Proud Heart (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1938) – serialized in Good Housekeeping magazine (8/1937–2/1938)
  • The Patriot (New York: John Day, 1939)
  • Other Gods: An American Legend (New York: John Day, 1940) – excerpt serialized in Good Housekeeping magazine as "American Legend" (12/1938–5/1939)
  • China Sky (New York: John Day, 1941) – China trilogy #1; serialized in Collier's Weekly magazine (2–4/1941); made into a feature film China Sky (film) (RKO, 1945)
  • China Gold: A Novel of War-torn China (New York: John Day, 1942) – China trilogy #2; serialized in Collier's Weekly magazine (2–4/1942)
  • Dragon Seed (New York: John Day, 1942) – serialized in Asia (9/1941–2/1942); made into a feature film Dragon Seed (MGM, 1944)
  • The Promise (New York: John Day, 1943) – sequel to Dragon Seed; serialized in Asia and the Americas (Asia) (11/1942–10/1943)
  • China Flight (Philadelphia: Triangle Books/Blakiston Company, 19453) – China trilogy #3; serialized in Collier's Weekly magazine (2–4/1943)
  • Portrait of a Marriage (New York: John Day, 1945) – illustrated by Charles Hargens
  • The Townsman (New York: John Day, 1945) – as John Sedges
  • Pavilion of Women (New York: John Day, 1946) – made into a feature film Pavilion of Women (Universal Focus, 2001)
  • The Angry Wife (New York: John Day, 1947) – as John Sedges
  • Peony (New York: John Day, 1948) – publlished in the UK as The Bondmaid (London: T. Brun, 1949); – serialized in Cosmopolitan (3–4/1948)
  • Kinfolk (New York: John Day, 1949) – serialized in Ladies' Home Journal (10/1948–2/1949)
  • The Long Love (New York: John Day, 1949) – as John Sedges
  • God's Men (New York: John Day, 1951)
  • Sylvia (1951) – alternate title No Time for Love, serialized in Redbook magazine (1951)
  • Bright Procession (New York: John Day, 1952) – as John Sedges
  • The Hidden Flower (New York: John Day, 1952) – serialized in Woman's Home Companion magazine (3–4/1952)
  • Come, My Beloved (New York: John Day, 1953)
  • Voices in the House (New York: John Day, 1953) – as John Sedges
  • Imperial Woman The Story of the Last Empress of China (New York: John Day, 1956) – about Empress Dowager Cixi; serialized in Woman's Home Companion (3–4/1956)
  • Letter from Peking (New York: John Day, 1957)
  • American Triptych: Three John Sedges Novels (New York: John Day, 1958) – includes The Townsman, The Long Love, Voices in the House
  • Command the Morning (New York: John Day, 1959)
  • Satan Never Sleeps (New York: Pocket Books, 1962) – 1962 film Satan Never Sleeps, also known as The Devil Never Sleeps and Flight from Terror
  • The Living Reed A Novel of Korea (New York: John Day, 1963)
  • Death in the Castle (New York: John Day, 1965)
  • The Time Is Noon (New York: John Day, 1966)
  • The New Year (New York: John Day, 1968)
  • The Three Daughters of Madame Liang (London: Methuen, 1969)
  • Mandala A Novel of India (New York: John Day, 1970)
  • The Goddess Abides (New York: John Day, 1972)
  • All under Heaven (New York: John Day, 1973)
  • The Rainbow (New York: John Day, 1974)
  • The Eternal Wonder (believed to have been written shortly before her death, published in October 2013)[44]


  • Is There a Case for Foreign Missions? (New York: John Day, 1932)
  • The Chinese Novel: Nobel Lecture Delivered before the Swedish Academy at Stockholm, December 12, 1938 (New York: John Day, 1939)[45]
  • Of Men and Women (New York: John Day, 1941) – Essays
  • American Unity and Asia (New York: John Day, 1942) – UK edition titled Asia and Democracy, London: Macmillan, 1943) – Essays
  • What America Means to Me (New York: John Day, 1943) – UK edition (London: Methuen, 1944) – Essays
  • Talk about Russia (with Masha Scott) (New York: John Day, 1945) – serialized in Asia and the Americas magazine (Asia) as Talks with Masha (1945)
  • Tell the People: Talks with James Yen about the Mass Education Movement (New York: John Day, 1945)
  • How It Happens: Talk about the German People, 1914–1933, with Erna von Pustau (New York: John Day, 1947)
  • American Argument with Eslanda Goode Robeson (New York: John Day, 1949)
  • The Child Who Never Grew (New York: John Day, 1950)
  • The Man Who Changed China: The Story of Sun Yat-sen (New York: John Day, 1953) – for children
  • Friend to Friend: A Candid Exchange between Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo (New York: John Day, 1958)
  • For Spacious Skies (1966)
  • The People of Japan (1966)
  • To My Daughters, with Love (New York: John Day, 1967)
  • The Kennedy Women (1970)
  • China as I See It (1970)
  • The Story Bible (1971)
  • Pearl S. Buck's Oriental Cookbook (1972)
  • Words of Love (1974)[46]

Short stories


  • The First Wife and Other Stories (London: Methuen, 1933) – includes: "The First Wife", "The Old Mother", "The Frill", "The Quarrell", "Repatriated", "The Rainy Day", Wang Lung", "The Communist", "Father Andrea", "The New Road", "Barren Spring", *"The Refugees", "Fathers and Mothers", "The Good River"
  • Today and Forever: Stories of China (New York: John Day, 1941) – includes: "The Lesson", The Angel", "Mr. Binney's Afternoon", "The Dance", "Shanghai Scene", "Hearts Come Home", "His Own Country", "Tiger! Tiger!", "Golden flower", "The Face of Buddha", "Guerrilla Mother", "A Man's Foes", "The Old Demon"
  • Twenty-seven Stories (Garden City, NY: Sun Dial Press, 1943) – includes (from The First Wife and Other Stories): "The First Wife", "The Old Mother", "The Frill", "The Quarrell", "Repatriated", "The Rainy Day", Wang Lung", "The Communist", "Father Andrea", "The New Road", "Barren Spring", *"The Refugees", "Fathers and Mothers", "The Good River"; and (from Today and Forever: Stories of China): "The Lesson", The Angel", "Mr. Binney's Afternoon", "The Dance", "Shanghai Scene", "Hearts Come Home", "His Own Country", "Tiger! Tiger!", "Golden flower", "The Face of Buddha", "Guerrilla Mother", "A Man's Foes", "The Old Demon"
  • Far and Near: Stories of Japan, China, and America (New York: John Day, 1947) – includes: "The Enemy", "Home Girl", "Mr. Right". The Tax Collector", "A Few People", "Home to Heaven", Enough for a Lifetime", Mother and Sons", Mrs. Mercer and Her Self", The Perfect Wife", "Virgin birth", "The Truce", "Heat Wave", "The One Woman"
  • Fourteen Stories (New York: John Day, 1961) – includes: "A Certain Star," "The Beauty", "Enchantment", "With a Delicate Air", "Beyond Language", "Parable of Plain People", "The Commander and the Commissar", "Begin to Live", "The Engagement", "Melissa", "Gift of Laughter", "Death and the Dawn", "The Silver Butterfly", "Francesca"
  • Hearts Come Home and Other Stories (New York: Pocket Books, 1962)
  • Stories of China (1964)
  • Escape at Midnight and Other Stories (1964)
  • East and West Stories (1975)
  • Secrets of the Heart: Stories (1976)
  • The Lovers and Other Stories (1977)
  • Mrs. Stoner and the Sea and Other Stories (1978)
  • The Woman Who Was Changed and Other Stories (1979)
  • Beauty Shop Series: "Revenge in a Beauty Shop" (1939) – original title "The Perfect Hairdresser"
  • Beauty Shop Series: "Gold Mine" (1940)
  • Beauty Shop Series: "Mrs. Whittaker's Secret"/"The Blonde Brunette" (1940)
  • Beauty Shop Series: "Procession of Song" (1940)
  • Beauty Shop Series: "Snake at the Picnic" (1940) – published as "Seed of Sin" (1941)
  • Beauty Shop Series: "Seed of Sin" (1941) – published as "Snake at the Picnic (1940)

Individual short stories

  • Unknown title (1902) – first published story, pen name "Novice", Shanghai Mercury
  • "The Real Santa Claus" (c. 1911)
  • "Village by the Sea" (1911)
  • "By the Hand of a Child" (1912)
  • "The Hours of Worship" (1914)
  • "When 'Lof' Comes" (1914)
  • "The Clutch of the Ancients" (1924)
  • "The Rainy Day" (c. 1925)
  • "A Chinese Woman Speaks" (1926)
  • "Lao Wang, the Farmer" (1926)
  • "The Solitary Priest" (1926)
  • "The Revolutionist" (1928) – later published as "Wang Lung" (1933)
  • "The Wandering Little God" (1928)
  • "Father Andrea" (1929)
  • "The New Road" (1930)
  • "Singing to her Death" (1930)
  • "The Barren Spring" (1931)
  • "The First Wife" (1931)
  • "The Old Chinese Nurse" (1932)
  • "The Quarrel" (1932)
  • "The Communist" (1933)
  • "Fathers and Mothers" (1933)
  • "The Frill" (1933)
  • "Hidden is the Golden Dragon" (1933)
  • "The Lesson" (1933) – later published as "No Other Gods" (1936; original title used in short story collections)
  • "The Old Mother" (1933)
  • "The Refugees" (1933)
  • "Repatriated" (1933)
  • "The Return" (1933)
  • "The River" (1933) – later published as "The Good River" (1939)
  • "The Two Women" (1933)
  • "The Beautiful Ladies" (1934) – later published as "Mr. Binney's Afternoon" (1935)
  • "Fool's Sacrifice" (1934)
  • "Shanghai Scene" (1934)
  • "Wedding and Funeral" (1934)
  • "Between These Two" (1935)
  • "The Dance" (1935)
  • "Enough for a Lifetime" (1935)
  • "Hearts Come Home" (1935)
  • "Heat Wave" (1935)
  • "His Own Country" (1935)
  • "The Perfect Wife" (1935)
  • "Vignette of Love" (1935) – later published as "Next Saturday and Forever" (1977)
  • "The Crusade" (1936)
  • "Strangers Are Kind" (1936)
  • "The Truce" (1936)
  • "What the Heart Must" (1937) – later published as "Someone to Remember" (1947)
  • "The Angel" (1937)
  • "Faithfully" (1937)
  • "Ko-Sen, the Sacrificed" (1937)
  • "Now and Forever" (1937) – serialized in Woman's Home Companion magazine (10/1936–3/1937)
  • "The Woman Who Was Changed" (1937) – serialized in Redbook magazine (7–9/1937)
  • "The Pearls of O-lan" – from The Good Earth (1938)
  • "Ransom" (1938)
  • "Tiger! Tiger!" (1938)
  • "Wonderful Woman" (1938) – serialized in Redbook magazine (6–8/1938)
  • "For a Thing Done" (1939) – originally titled "While You Are Here"
  • "The Old Demon" (1939) – reprinted in Great Modern Short Stories: An Anthology of Twelve Famous Stories and Novelettes, selected, and with a foreword and biographical notes by Bennett Cerf (New York: The Modern library, 1942)
  • "The Face of Gold" (1940, in Saturday Evening Post) – later published as "The Face of Buddha" (1941)
  • "Golden Flower" (1940)
  • "Iron" (1940) – later published as "A Man's Foes" (1940)
  • "The Old Signs Fail" (1940)
  • "Stay as You Are" (1940) – serialized in Cosmopolitan (3–7/1940)
  • "There Was No Peace" (1940) – later published as "Guerrilla Mother" (1941)
  • "Answer to Life" (novella; 1941)
  • "More Than a Woman" (1941) – originally titled "Deny It if You Can"
  • "Our Daily Bread" (1941) – originally titled "A Man's Daily Bread, 1–3", serialized in Redbook magazine (2–4/1941), longer version published as Portrait of a Marriage (1945)
  • The Enemy (1942, Harper's Magazine) – staged by the Indian "Aamra Kajon" (Drama Society), on the Bengal Theatre Festival 2019[47]
  • "John-John Chinaman" (1942) – original title "John Chinaman"
  • "The Long Way 'Round" – serialized in Cosmopolitan (9/1942–2/1943)
  • "Mrs. Barclay's Christmas Present" (1942) – later published as "Gift of Laughter" (1943)
  • "Descent into China" (1944)
  • "Journey for Life" (1944) – originally titled "Spark of Life"
  • "The Real Thing" (1944) – serialized in Cosmopolitan (2–6/1944); originally intendeds as a serial "Harmony Hill" (1938)
  • "Begin to Live" (1945)
  • "Mother and Sons" (1945)
  • "A Time to Love" (1945) – later published under its original title "The Courtyards of Peace" (1969)
  • "Big Tooth Yang" (1946) – later published as "The Tax Collector" (1947)
  • "The Conqueror's Girl" (1946) – later published as "Home Girl" (1947)
  • "Faithfully Yours" (1947)
  • "Home to Heaven" (1947)
  • "Incident at Wang's Corner" (1947) – later published as "A Few People" (1947)
  • "Mr. Right" (1947)
  • "Mrs. Mercer and Her Self" (1947)
  • "The One Woman" (1947)
  • "Virgin Birth" (1947)
  • "Francesca" (Good Housekeeping magazine, 1948)
  • "The Ember" (1949)
  • "The Tryst" (1950)
  • "Love and the Morning Calm" – serialized in Redbook magazine (1–4/1951)
  • "The Man Called Dead" (1952)
  • "Death and the Spring" (1953)
  • "Moon over Manhattan" (1953)
  • "The Three Daughters" (1953)
  • "The Unwritten Rules" (1953)
  • "The Couple Who Lived on the Moon" (1953) – later published as "The Engagement" (1961)
  • "A Husband for Lili" (1953) – later published as "The Good Deed (1969)
  • "The Heart's Beginning" (1954)
  • "The Shield of Love" (1954)
  • "Christmas Day in the Morning" (1955) – later published as "The Gift That Lasts a Lifetime"
  • "Death and the Dawn" (1956)
  • "Mariko" (1956)
  • "A Certain Star" (1957)
  • "Honeymoon Blues" (1957)
  • "China Story" (1958)
  • "Leading Lady" (1958) – alternately titled "Open the Door, Lady"
  • "The Secret" (1958)
  • "With a Delicate Air" (1959)
  • "The Bomb (Dr. Arthur Compton)" (1959)
  • "Heart of a Man" (1959)
  • "Melissa" (1960)
  • "The Silver Butterfly" (1960)
  • "The Beauty" (1961)
  • "Beyond Language" (1961)
  • "The Commander and the Commissar" (1961)
  • "Enchantment" (1961)
  • "Parable of Plain People" (1961)
  • "A Field of Rice" (1962)
  • "A Grandmother's Christmas" (1962) – later published as "This Day to Treasure" (1972)
  • ""Never Trust the Moonlight" (1962) – later published as "The Green Sari" (1962)
  • "The Cockfight, 1963
  • "A Court of Love" (1963)
  • "Escape at Midnight" (1963)
  • "The Lighted Window" (1963)
  • "Night Nurse" (1963)
  • "The Sacred Skull" (1963)
  • "The Trap" (1963)
  • "India, My India" (1964)
  • "Ranjit and the Tiger" (1964)
  • "A Certain Wisdom" (1967, in Woman's Day magazine)
  • "Stranger Come Home" (1967)
  • "The House They Built" (1968, in Boys' Life magazine)
  • "The Orphan in My Home" (1968)
  • "Secrets of the Heart" (1968)
  • "All the Days of Love and Courage" 1969) – later published as "The Christmas Child" (1972)
  • "Dagger in the Dark" (1969)
  • "Duet in Asia" (1969; written 1953
  • "Going Home" (1969)
  • "Letter Home" (1969; written 1943)
  • "Sunrise at Juhu" (1969)
  • "Two in Love" (1970) – later published as "The Strawberry Vase" (1976)
  • "The Gifts of Joy" (1971)
  • "Once upon a Christmas" (1971)
  • "The Christmas Secret" (1972)
  • "Christmas Story" (1972)
  • "In Loving Memory" (1972) – later published as "Mrs. Stoner and the Sea" (1976)
  • "The New Christmas" (1972)
  • "The Miracle Child" (1973)
  • "Mrs. Barton Declines" (1973) – later published as "Mrs. Barton's Decline" and "Mrs. Barton's Resurrection" (1976)
  • "Darling Let Me Stay" (1975) – excerpt from "Once upon a Christmas" (1971)
  • "Dream Child" (1975)
  • "The Golden Bowl" (1975; written 1942)
  • "Letter from India" (1975)
  • "To Whom a Child is Born" (1975)
  • "Alive again" (1976)
  • "Come Home My Son" (1976)
  • "Here and Now" (1976; written 1941)
  • "Morning in the Park" (1976; written 1948)
  • "Search for a Star" (1976)
  • "To Thine Own Self" (1976)
  • "The Woman in the Waves" (1976; written 1953)
  • "The Kiss" (1977)
  • "The Lovers" (1977)
  • "Miranda" (1977)
  • "The Castle" (1979; written 1949)
  • "A Pleasant Evening" (1979; written 1948)
  • Christmas Miniature (New York: John Day, 1957) – in UK as Christmas Mouse (London: Methuen, 1959) – illustrated by Anna Marie Magagna
  • Christmas Ghost (New York: John Day, 1960) – illustrated by Anna Marie Magagna

''Unpublished stories''

  • "The Good Rich Man" (1937, unsold)
  • "The Sheriff" (1937, unsold)
  • "High and Mighty" (1938, unsold)
  • "Mrs. Witler's Husband" (1938, unsold)
  • "Mother and Daughter" (1938, unsold; alternate title "My Beloved")
  • "Mother without Child" (1940, unsold)
  • "Instead of Diamonds" (1953, unsold)

''Unpublished stories, undated''

  • "The Assignation" (submitted not sold)
  • "The Big Dance" (unsold)
  • "The Bleeding Heart" (unsold)
  • "The Bullfrog" (unsold)
  • "The Day at Dawn" (unpublished)
  • "The Director"
  • "Heart of the Jungle (submitted, unsold)
  • "Images" (sold but unpublished)
  • "Lesson in Biology" / "Useless Wife" (unsold)
  • "Morning in Okinawa" (unsold)
  • "Mrs. Jones of Jerrell Street" (unsold)
  • "One of Our People" (sold, unpublished)
  • "Summer Fruit" (unsold)
  • "Three Nights with Love" (submitted, unsold) – original title "More Than a Woman"
  • "Too Many Flowers" (unsold)
  • "Wang the Ancient" (unpublished)
  • "Wang the White Boy" (unpublished)

''Stories: Date unknown''

  • "Church Woman"
  • "Crucifixion"
  • "Dear Son"
  • "Escape Me Never" – alternate title of "For a Thing Done"
  • "The Great Soul"
  • "Her Father's Wife"
  • "Horse Face"
  • "Lennie"
  • "The Magic Dragon"
  • "Mrs. Jones of Jerrell Street" (unsold)
  • "Night of the Dance"
  • "One and Two"
  • "Pleasant Vampire"
  • "Rhoda and Mike"
  • "The Royal Family"
  • "The Searcher"
  • "Steam and Snow"
  • "Tinder and the Flame"
  • "The War Chest"
  • "To Work the Sleeping Land"

Children's books and stories

  • The Young Revolutionist (New York: John Day, 1932) – for children
  • Stories for Little Children (New York: John Day, 1940) – pictures by Weda Yap
  • "When Fun Begins" (1941)
  • The Chinese Children Next Door (New York: John Day, 1942)
  • The Water Buffalo Children (New York: John Day, 1943) – drawings by William Arthur Smith
  • Dragon Fish (New York: John Day, 1944) – illustrated by Esther Brock Bird
  • Yu Lan: Flying Boy of China (New York: John Day, 1945) – drawings by Georg T. Hartmann
  • The Big Wave (New York: John Day, 1948) – illustrated with prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai – for children
  • One Bright Day (New York: John Day, 1950) – published in the UK as One Bright Day and Other Stories for Children (1952)
  • The Beech Tree (New York: John Day, 1954) – illustrated by Kurt Werth – for children
  • "Johnny Jack and His Beginnings" (New York: John Day, 1954)
  • Christmas Miniature (1957) – published in the UK as The Christmas Mouse (1958)
  • "The Christmas Ghost" (1960)
  • "Welcome Child (1964)
  • "The Big Fight" (1965)
  • "The Little Fox in the Middle" (1966)
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (New York: John Day, 1967) – set in South Korea
  • "The Chinese Storyteller" (1971)
  • "A Gift for the Children" (1973)
  • "Mrs Starling's Problem" (1973)


Museums and historic houses

Pearl S. Buck's study in Lushan Pearl S. Buck Villa

Several historic sites work to preserve and display artifacts from Pearl's profoundly multicultural life:

See also


  1. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1938 Accessed 9 Mar 2013
  2. Lian Xi, The Conversion of Missionaries, University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1996) 102 ISBN 0271064382.
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  6. Pearl S. Buck, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record (New York: John Day, 1954) p. 10.
  7. Peter Conn, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996) 9, 19–23 ISBN 0521560802.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Conn, Pearl S. Buck, 70–82.
  9. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Conn, Pearl S. Buck, 345.
  11. Pearl S. Buck, "Is There a Case for Foreign Missions?," Harper's 166 (January 1933): 143–155.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  13. Buck, Pearl S. The Good Earth. Ed. Peter Conn. New York: Washington Square Press, 1994. pp. xviii–xix.
  14. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  16. Conn, Peter, Dragon and the Pearl
  17. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  18. Nobel Lecture (1938) The Chinese Novel
  19. Courtney, Chris (2018), "The Nature of Disaster in China: The 1931 Central China Flood", Cambridge University Press [[[International Standard Book Number|ISBN]] 978-1-108-41777-8]
  20. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  22. Pearl S. Buck International, "Our History Archived 2006-12-31 at the Wayback Machine," 2009.
  23. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  25. Buck, Pearl S. My Mother's House. Richwood, WV: Appalachian Press. pp. 30–31.
  26. Conn, Pearl S. Buck, xv–xvi.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Conn (1996), p. 376.
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  32. Conn, Pearl S. Buck, xii–xiv.
  33. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  35. NPR, "A Chinese Fan Of Pearl S. Buck Returns The Favor", All Things Considered, April 7, 2010. Accessed 7/4/10
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Further reading

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  • Hilary Spurling, Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China (London: Profile, 2010) ISBN 9781861978288
  • Nora B. Stirling, Pearl Buck, a Woman in Conflict (Piscataway, NJ: New Century Publishers, 1983)
  • Elizabeth Johnston Lipscomb, Frances E. Webb and Peter J. Conn, eds., The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck: Essays Presented at a Centennial Symposium, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, March 26–28, 1992. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Contributions in Women's Studies, 1994. ISBN 0313291527
  • Liao Kang. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge across the Pacific. (Westport, CT, London: Greenwood, Contributions to the Study of World Literature 77, 1997). ISBN 0-313-30146-8.
  • Xi Lian. The Conversion of Missionaries: Liberalism in American Protestant Missions in China, 1907–1932. (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997). ISBN 027101606X
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  • Mari Yoshihara. Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). ISBN 019514533X
  • Karen J. Leong. The China Mystique: Pearl S. Buck, Anna May Wong, Mayling Soong, and the Transformation of American Orientalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). ISBN 0520244222
  • Theodore F. Harris (in consultation with Pearl S. Buck), Pearl S. Buck: a Biography (John Day, 1969. ISBN 978-0-381-98113-6)
  • Theodore F. Harris (in consultation with Pearl S. Buck), Pearl S. Buck; a biography. Volume two: Her philosophy as expressed in her letters (John Day, 1971. ASIN B002BAA2PU)

External links