Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl Buck is born in West Virginia to parents on furlough from their missionary work in China. The family soon returned to China, where Buck lived for the better part of 40 years. Her novel The Good Earth (1930), describing peasant life in China, became an international bestseller.
Young Pearl learned to speak Chinese before English. She returned to the U.S. to attend college, then married an American agriculture specialist in China. The two settled down to live in the province where she later set The Good Earth. The couple later moved to Nanking to teach college.
In 1930, Buck created a literary sensation with The Good Earth. Her novel won the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes and was translated into 30 languages. In the '30s, The Good Earth and other novels and stories by Buck were more widely read in Europe than those of any other American author. However, today few of her 80 novels and books retain as much interest as The Good Earth.
Buck created several charitable foundations for Asian-American children abroad, including an adoption agency. She spoke strongly against the internment of Japanese during World War II and wrote a letter of protest to The New York Times in 1954 that helped change immigration policy. She received many awards for her humanitarian activities. Buck died in 1973.