1938 Nobel Prize For Literature Goes to Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck

Adapted from the original article in The Emporia Gazette – November 10, 1938: The 1938 Nobel prize for literature today was awarded to Pearl Buck, American author of The Good Earth and other novels dealing with China. She was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia in 1893 and has spent much of her life in China.

Parents Missionaries – Mrs. Buck’s parents were missionaries in China and her first husband, J. Lossing Buck, was a member of the faculty of Nanking university. They were divorced in 1935.

 

The Good Earth and other works

The Nobel award was understood to have been based particularly on The Good Earth, which also won the 1932 Pulitzer prize for an American novel. The Nobel’ literature prize amounts to 155,000 kroner, about $37,975. 

Pearl Buck said today she “just couldn’t believe it” when cable dispatched from Stockholm brought word that she had won the 1938 Nobel prize for literature.

Her husband and publisher, Richard J. Walsh, said his wife was “very excited.” Walsh said presumably the prize was awarded to her for her famous The Good Earth and for subsequent works, including This Proud Heart – her first American novel–published last February.

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The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

See also: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

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Also won the Pulitzer prize

Mrs. Buck won the Pulitzer prize in 1932 and the Howells medal in 1935 for the best work of literature during the preceding five years. Her next novel, entitled The Patriot, will again be laid in China and will be published next February.

Walsh said the Nobel prize was now awarded for “the body of work” by an author rather than any specific novel.

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Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck at about the time she won the Nobel Prize
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In good company, and other awards

Pearl Buck was the third American to win the Nobel award in literature, an honor she shares in the country only with Sinclair Lewis, who was awarded it in 1930, and Eugene O’Neill, who received it in 1936.

She joined the company of such literary greats as Maurice Muterlinck, Rudyard Kipling, Anatole France, William Butler and George Bernard Shaw. She was the second woman of the decade to win Nobel recognition for her literature. The first, in 1928, was Sigrid Undset.

Other winners of the past 10 years were Thomas Mann in 1929; Lewis, 1930; Erick Axel Karlfeldt, 1931; John Galsworthy, 1932, Ivan Bunin, 1933; Luigi Pirandello, 1934; O’Neili, 1936, and Roger M. du Gard last year. There was no award in 1935.

The Good Earth, probably best known of Mrs. Buck’s works won the Pulitzer prize for the best novel of 1932. She also was awarded second prize in the 1933 O. Henry memorial awards for her story, “The Frill.”

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Pearl S. Buck

You might also like: Pearl Buck Talks of Her Work

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