Pearl S. Buck

pearl buck

Pearl S. Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973) was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for her striking, exotic writing that opened our collective eyes to different cultures. Born in the U.S., she moved to China as a child, and grew up on that country’s legends. These stuck with her and influenced her writing and political activity.

Wise and opinionated, Buck made her feelings clear with her writing and brought attention to issues (social, racial, gender, international relations) that were unacknowledged; she dared the nation to help those that needed it.

She and her husband founded both The East and West Association, to increase understanding between East and West cultures and Welcome House, an agency for adopting children internationally; she also founded the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to help children in Asian countries. The Good Earth, her best-know work, was her second novel; it received both the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal.

She also wrote an enormous body of nonfiction, as well as essays and stories for magazines, all too numerous to list here, but which included work for The Atlantic Monthly, The Chinese Recorder, and The Crisis. When she passed away in 1973, Buck had published over 70 works, crossing over all genres. Her writing is still admired today, all over the world.

More about Pearl Buck on this site

Major works of fiction — a highly selected list

Biographies about Pearl S. Buck

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Articles, News, Etc.

Film adaptations of Pearl Buck’s works

Visit Pearl S. Buck birthplace, house and other locations

Pearl S. Buck Quotes

Pearl S. Buck “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

“I love people. I love my family, my children … but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.” (As quoted in The New York Post, 26 April 1959)

“A man is educated and turned out to work. But a woman is educated — and turned out to grass.” (Of Men and Women, 1941)

“In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.” (My Several Worlds: A Personal Record, 1954) 

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word –excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” (The Joy of Children, 1966)

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” (To My Daughters, With Love, 1967)

“The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.” (As quoted in Know Your Limits  — Then Ignore Them, 2000, by John Mason)

“Men and women should own the world as a mutual possession.” (Of Men and Women, 1941)

“Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman.”

Pearl S. Buck 1932

“All things are possible until they are proved impossible – and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.” (A Bridge for Passing, 1962)

“Nothing in life is as good as the marriage of true minds between man and woman. As good? It is life itself.”

“An intelligent, energetic, educated woman cannot be kept in four walls — even satin-lined, diamond-studded walls — without discovering sooner or later that they are still a prison cell.” (“America’s Medieval Women,” Harper’s Magazine, August 1938)

“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.” (“My Neighbor’s Son”To My Daughters, With Love, 1967)

“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.”

“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”

“Race prejudice is not only a shadow over the colored, it is a shadow over all of us, and the shadow is darkest over those who feel it least and allow its evil effects to go on.”

“When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail.”

“Love dies only when growth stops.”

“A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.”

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.”

“To know how to read is to light a lamp in the mind, to release the soul from prison, to open a gate to the universe.”

“None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free.”

“If you start to revise before you’ve reached the end, you’re likely to begin dawdling with the revisions and putting off the difficult task of writing.”

“We learn as much from sorrow as from joy, as much from illness as from health, from handicap as from advantage — and indeed perhaps more.”

“To take each day as a separate page, to be read carefully, savoring all of the details, this is best for me, I think.”

“You must set forth and find the center of your interest. You are a creator, but you must find your interest and then dedicate yourself to that interest — not to the act of creativity. Merely to want to create will make it impossible for you to do so. You must find an interest greater than yourself — a love, perhaps — and then the power to create will set you on fire.”

“Of course imagination is the beginning of creation. Without imagination there can be no creation.”

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