Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born on June 26, 1892 in the
West Virginia home of her grandmother. She was born the fourth of
seven children to Caroline and Absalom, two Presbyterian
missionaries, who were home from China. The family quickly returned
to their home in Chinkiang, China three months after Pearls birth.
Pearl grew up among the Chinese peasants in a small farming
community. Her first language was Chinese, she grew up with the
customs and traditions of the Chinese. As she grew her mother and
her teacher taught her English.
In 1910, Pearl returned to the United States to earn a degree at
Randolph-Macon Womens College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She studied
philosophy and was very active in the student government. She was
elected class president and was a Phi Beta Kappa. After her
graduation in 1914, she stayed at Randolph-Macon to teach
psychology. After one semester she returned to China to assist her
Pearl married John Lossing Buck, an agricultural missionary, in
China on May 13, 1917. The couple led a very unhappy life together.
In 1921, Pearl gave birth to a daughter, Carol, who was mentally
disabled with a disease called PKU. Pearl decided to return to the
States and place her in a full-time care facility in Vineland, New
Jersey. Because of a tumor found in Pearl's uterus during delivery,
she underwent a hysterectomy.
From 1920-1933, the Bucks lived in Nanking on the campus of the
university where they both taught. Pearl published her first work
in 1923, a nonfiction article for Atlantic magazine titled "In
China too." In 1925, while studying at Cornell University, she
wrote an article titled "A Chinese Woman Speaks" which would later
be the impetus for her first novel EAST WIND, WEST WIND, published
by the John Day Company in 1930. John Days publisher Richard Walsh
took an immediate liking to Pearl and her work. This was to be the
start of a long prosperous writing career in which she was awarded
the Pulitzer Prize for THE GOOD EARTH and became the first American
woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Pearl Buck divorced her husband in 1935 after falling in love with
Walsh. The couple moved into an estate in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania shortly after their marriage. Pearl and Richard lived
at Green Hills Farm with their six adopted children. It was at this
residence that she would write over 100 works before her death in
Pearl S. Buck