Pearl (Buck) of the Orient

Day 303 of Colourisation Project – March 6

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

The first adult novel I ever read was Pearl S. Buck‘s best selling classic, The Good Earth. It left a lasting impression on me.

A poignant tale of the struggles of a Chinese peasant and his slave-wife, it is widely considered one of the great modern classics and was included in Life Magazine’s list of the 100 outstanding books of 1924-1944.  It earned Buck the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and the Howells Medal in 1935.

It is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935). In 1938 Buck became the first American female (and the fourth female overall) to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, for “her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces.”

In 1937 The Good Earth was adapted to the screen and became a major Academy award winning MGM film. Ironically the film only serves to highlight the entrenched racism in Hollywood at the time, which saw the leading roles of Chinese peasants played by Caucasian actors made up to “look” Asian.  (See story here in my earlier blog on Chinese-American actress, Anna May Wong.) Pearl Buck of course did not approve of Hollywood’s tampering with her book.

Pearl Buck Bef & Aft

Photographer: Arnold Genthe ~ Pearl Buck c 1932 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Though born in Hillsboro, West Virginia in 1892, Buck, a daughter of missionaries spent most of her life before 1934 in China. However due to civil unrest there, she returned permanently to the United States and became highly active in American civil rights and women’s rights activities as well as other humanitarian causes to combat racial intolerance against Asian Americans.

In 1941 she founded the East and West Association to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged Asian Americans, particularly children. In 1949 she established Welcome House, the first international, interracial adoption agency and in 1964 she established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, to work towards eliminating the injustices and prejudices faced by children in Asian countries.

Buck was a prolific author with more than seventy titles under her belt. Most of her writings deal with Chinese life and the confrontation of East and West. Her body of work includes two memoirs, biographies of both of her parents, poetry, drama and children’s literature. She even wrote a cookbook about Asian cuisine, Pearl S. Buck’s Oriental Cookbook (1972).

Pearl S. Buck died of lung cancer on this day, March 6, 1973, in Danby, Vermont at the age of 80.


“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”   Pearl S. Buck

This entry was posted in American Literature, Colorization, Colourisation, Literature, Photography, USA, Women, Women in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pearl (Buck) of the Orient

  1. Kati Sowiak says:

    Love it! Would you be willing to share this with Pearl S. Buck International? We are the organization that preserves Buck’s house museum, and continue with the humanitarian activities she started. I am the graphic designer and would love the opportunity to share your image.


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