Log In

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck

also known as Sai Zhenzhju, Mrs. Richard J. Walsh


Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu, was an American Nobel Prize-winning novelist. She dedicated her books and her personal activities to the improvement of relations between Americans and Asians.


Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries, on furlough at the time of her birth from their activities in Chinkiang, China, although they soon returned there.


Bachelor of Arts, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1914. Master of Arts, Cornell Univercity, 1926. Master of Arts, Yale, 1933.Doctor of Letters, West Virginia University, 1940, St. Lawrence University, 1942. Doctor of Laws, Howard U., 1942. Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Lincoln U., 1953, Women’s Medical College Pennsylvania, 1954, U. Pittsburgh, 1960, Bethany College, 1963.Doctor of Music (honorary), Combs College Music, Philadelphia, 1962. Doctor of Humanities (honorary), West Virginia State College, 1963. Doctor of Humane Letters, Bethany College, 1963, Hahnemann Hospital, 1966.Doctor of Letters, Delaware Valley College, 1965. Doctor of Laws, Muhienberg College, 1966. Doctor of Humane Letters, Rutgers University, 1969.


Buck's first novel, East Wind: West Wind (1930), a study of the conflict between the old China and the new, was followed by The Good Earth (1931), a profoundly affecting novel of Chinese peasant life, which won her a Pulitzer Prize. In 1933 Buck received a second master's degree, this time from Yale University, and in 1934 she took up permanent residence in the United States. In 1935 she divorced John Buck and married Richard J. Walsh, her publisher. Her extensive literary output—Sons (1932), The First Wife and Other Stories (1933), The Mother (1934), A House Divided (1935), and biographies of her father and mother, The Exile (1936) and Fighting Angel (1936) respectively—culminated in a 1938 Nobel Prize for literature, the first ever awarded to a woman.

In the next three decades, while continuing to write prolifically, Buck worked to promote racial tolerance and ease the plight of disadvantaged Asians, particularly children. In 1941 she founded the East and West Association to promote greater understanding among the world's peoples, and in 1949 she established Welcome House, an adoption agency for Asian-American children. She always had a special interest in children, and among her many books for them are The Water-Buffalo

Children (1943), The Man Who Changed China: The Story of Sun Yat Sen (1953), The Beech Tree (1955), Christmas Miniature (1957), and The Christmas Ghost (1960). A steadfast supporter of multiracial families, in 1964 she organized the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which supports Asian-American children and their mothers living abroad.

Although Buck's literary career embraced a variety of genres, almost all of her stories are set in China: the extremely popular novel Dragon Seed, its less popular sequel, The Promise (1943), and a raft of later novels, including Peony (1948), Letter from Peking (1957), and The New Year (1968). Among her other works, the highly acclaimed The Living Reed (1963) details the history of a Korean family during the late 19th and early 20th century. In the late 1940s Buck also authored a trilogy under the pseudonym John Sedges. The novels were later published as American Triptych (1958).

Buck's play A Desert Incident was produced in New York City in 1959. Her ability as an essayist is exemplified by American Argument (with Eslanda Goode Robeson, 1949) and Friend to Friend (1958), "a candid exchange" with Philippine president Carlos P. Rómulo. Buck died of lung cancer in 1973, with more than one hundred written works to her credit. But even more significant, perhaps, were the over three hundred awards she received for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of improved race

relations worldwide.

There has been very little critical attention given to Mrs. Buck's work. Her autobiography is My Several Worlds (1954). The best biographical sources are Cornelia Spencer, The Exile's Daughter: A Biography of Pearl S. Buck (1944), Paul A. Doyle, Pearl S. Buck (1965), and Nora Stirling, Pearl Buck: A Woman in Conflict (1983)


  • Other Work

    • Author: East Wind-West Wind, 1930. The Young Revolutionist, 1931. The Good Earth (Pulitzer prize), 1931.Sons, 1932

    • The First Wife and Other Stories, 1933. All Men Are Brothers (translation of the Chinese classic Shul Hu Chuan), 1933. The Mother, 1934

    • A House Divided, 1935.House of Earth, 1935. The Exile, 1936

    • Fighting Angel, 1936. This Proud Heart, 1935.The Patriot, 1939

    • The Chinese Novel, 1939. Other Gods, 1940

    • Stories for Little Children, 1940. Today and Forever, 1941.Of Men and Women, 1941. Dragon Seed, 1942

    • American Unity and Asia, 1942. The Chinese Children Next Door, 1942.What America Means to Me, 1943. The Water-Buffalo Children, 1943. The Promise, 1943

    • The Dragon Fish, 1944.(with James Yen) Tell the People, 1945. Yu-Lan, Flying Boy of China, 1945. Portrait of a Marriage, 1945.(with Masha Scott) Talk about Russia, 1945. Pavilion of Women, 1946. (with Erna von Pustau) How It Happens, 1946.Far and Near, 1947

    • The Big Wave, 1948. Peony, 1948


Quotations: The basic discovery about any people is the discovery of the relationship between its men and its women.

Hunger makes a thief of any man.

When men destroy their old gods they will find new ones to take their place.


Member American Academy Arts and Letters, National Institute Arts and Letters, Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Delta. Club: Cosmopolitan (New York).


  • Other Interests

    Pearl Buck has been active in many welfare organizations; in particular she set up an agency for the adoption of Asian-American children (Welcome House, Inc.) and has taken an active interest in retarded children (The Child Who Never Grew, 1950).


Married Johr Lossing Buck, May 13, 1917.; married second, Richard J. Walsh, June 11, 1935 (deceased. Children: Carol, Janice.

Absalom Sydenstricker - Southern Presbyterian missionar

Caroline Stulting - Southern Presbyterian missionar

Janice Buck

Carol Buck

1-st husband:
John Lossing Buck

an agricultural economist

2-nd husband:
John Lossing Buck