“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” –Pearl S. Buck
Pearl S. Buck was born June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, WV. Born to missionaries, Buck’s young life was spent overseas in China. Her experiences with Eastern cultures had a large influence on what would become a prolific literary career. Pearl Buck’s family lived in China through periods of great political and social upheaval. The Buck family was progressive in their treatment of Chinese people, they treated their hosts as equals and lived in a bilingual household. Many Westerners in China considered Chinese people to be “heathens” and refused to learn to speak Chinese, these attitudes often upset the Buck family.
Eventually Peal Buck would leave China to complete her collegiate studies in the United States at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA. However she would return to China sooner than she anticipated when she became a missionary in her mother’s place. This return to China would allow Pearl Buck to interact further with the Chinese populations that would later appear in her books. Pearl Buck finalized her divorce and married her second husband Richard Walsh on the same day in 1935. Buck would then be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “…notable works which pave the way to a human sympathy passing over widely separated racial boundaries and for the studies of human ideals which are a great and living art of portraiture…”
Pearl Buck was not allowed to return to China throughout the remainder of her lifetime, although she made many attempts. Richard Warren died in 1960, and Pearl Buck died of lung cancer in 1973. Throughout the remainder of her life, Pearl S. Buck was a catalyst for social change. She founded The Welcome House, an organization to assist in placing Asian and interracial children in adoptive homes. Welcome House was founded in 1949 a time when Western adoption agencies deemed Asian and Interracial children as “unfit” for adoption.
Our featured museum was funded by the efforts of Pearl S. Buck herself. The museum’s namesake toured the state of West Virginia to raise funds to preserve her birthplace. The Pearl S. Buck Museum and birthplace foundation showcases the home where Pearl Buck was born. The house museum also showcases the earliest life of Pearl Buck and some of the influences West Virginia played on her work. The museum is open Friday, Saturday, and Monday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Check out this Appalachian gem’s Facebook for current events and tour times!