Today, the birthplace of Pearl S. Buck in Hillsboro, West Virginia stands in loving memory of the woman who helped shape the 20th century through her writing, her efforts, and her example. Built in 1875, the house serves as a museum with original family furniture and other personal belongings. Knowledgeable guides will meet you and give you a thorough tour.
Born Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker on June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Pearl along with her parents Absalom and Caroline Sydenstricker left for China when she was yet a baby. Her parents were Southern Presbyterian missionaries and China would not only be Pearl’s home for over 30 years but also the backdrop for many of her eloquent books.
Returning to America to attend college, Pearl graduated from Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1914. There she met a young Cornell graduate, John Lossing Buck and the two were married in 1917. From 1920 to 1933, Pearl and Lossing made their home in Nanking, China on the campus of Nanking University, where both had teaching positions.
The Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature
Pearl S. Buck won the hearts of Americans with her famous novel, The Good Earth, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. The book was a best seller in 1931 as well as a major MGM film in 1937. For the high quality of her work, which eventually included over 70 books, 10 children’s books, 100 short stories and numerous books on poetry, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. Ms. Buck is one of only two American women to receive both of these awards.
Civil Rights and a Voice for Children
After Pearl returned to the United States in 1934 she was actively involved in both civil rights and women’s rights activities. She published essays in the Journal of the NAACP, the Journal of the Urban League, and was a trustee at Howard University for over 20 years. Pearl also dedicated herself to raising funds and consciousness about the Chinese people and their impoverished lives.
Pearl coined the term “Amerasian” to describe children of unions between Asians and Americans. After World War II, thousands of such children were born in Japan, Okinawa, and Korea, usually Asian women fathered by American servicemen. It became her mission to not only rescue these children but to educate Americans and the world on their plight.
Pearl Buck’s Birthplace is a popular motor coach stop. For details and scheduling, call the Birthplace directly at 304.653.4430.
The Gift Shop features rare autographed books by Miss Buck as well as West Virginia crafts, the official First Day Covers with Pearl Buck Stamps, and other souvenirs.
The Sydenstricker Home
The Sydenstricker House, Birthplace of Pearl Buck’s father, Absalom Sydenstricker, was dismantled and moved from Greenbrier County to the family property in the Little Levels. Today it serves as the Sydenstricker Museum which hosts quilting and craft workshops. Special events and exhibits are held throughout the year.
Photo of Pearl Buck a year before she accepted the Nobel Award and photo of Pearl with her parents, younger sister Grace and her Omah, Wang courtesy of "Pearl S. Buck International, www.pearl-s-buck.org.”