SHERO: Pearl Buck, Writer
LIFE: June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973
FAME: The first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
Pearl Buck was an American writer who lived and wrote about China. Born in 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, she grew up in Chinkiang, China where her parents were stationed as missionaries. During her time in China (a total of 40 years residency) she experienced life in poor rural areas, and survived the Boxer Rebellion and civil war.
She began writing in her twenties and published her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, in 1930. In 1931 she published The Good Earth, her best-selling novel about the emergence of modern China. The book won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces." (source)
DID YOU KNOW? The second American woman to receive the Nobel Prize was Toni Morrison in 1993 (61 years later!).
In 1934 Pearl Buck returned to America where she focused on humanitarian efforts, campaigning for minority and women's rights. She spoke out against Japanese-American internment camps during World War II and was a target for surveillance by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the FBI. In 1949 she founded Welcome House, the first international, interracial adoption agency in the world. She also helped to open America's mind and attitude toward mental disabilities by writing The Child Who Never Grew Up about her daughter Carol in 1950.
DID YOU KNOW? In her lifetime, Pearl Buck published over 70 books including fiction, nonfiction and children's books. (Why weren't more of her life and works taught in school?)
Remarkable American Women, Life Magazine, 1976.