Thursday, January 23, 2020

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, 1892 - 1973 :: History

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, 1892 - 1973 Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Her parents, Absalom and Caroline Sydenstricker, were Southern Presbyterian missionaries, and were stationed in China. Pearl was the fourth of seven children (and 1 of only 3 who would live until adulthood). Buck was born in the U.S. so she could be a natural U.S. citizen. The Sydenstrickers lived in Chinkiang (Zhenjiang), in Kiangsu (Jiangsu) province. Pearl's father spent much time away from home, traveling in the Chinese countryside in search of Christian converts. Pearl's mother ministered to Chinese women in a dispensary she created. >From childhood, Pearl spoke both English and Chinese. She was taught mainly by her mother and a Chinese tutor, Mr. Kung. Though in 1900 the family returned to the US to continue their lives. In 1910, Pearl enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman's College, in Lynchburg, Virginia, and graduated in 1914. Although she wanted to stay in US, she returned to China after graduation when she heard that her mother was extremely sick. In 1915, she met John Lossing Buck and they were married in 1917. (The marriage was very unhappy, but it lasted for 18 years.) They immediately moved to Nanhsuchou (Nanxuzhou) in Anhwei (Anhui) province. This is where Pearl gathered poverty stricken material that she would later use in The Good Earth and other stories about China. The Bucks' first child, Carol, was born in 1921, but was born with PKU. (A genetic disorder in which the body lacks the enzyme necessary to metabolize phenylalanine to tyrosine. Left untreated, the disorder can cause brain damage and progressive mental retardation as a result of the accumulation of phenylalanine and its breakdown products.) The child became extremely retarded. Then, because of a uterine tumor found during the delivery, Pearl had a hysterectomy. In 1925, she and her husband adopted a baby girl, Janice. >From 1920 to 1933, Pearl and Lossing made lived in Nanking (Nanjing), on the campus of the Nanking University, where both had teaching jobs. In 1921, Pearl's mother died and shortly after her father moved in with the Bucks. The tragedies which Pearl suffered through out her life reached a climax in March, 1927. In the terrible even called the "Nanking Incident." In a confusing battle involving parts of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist troops, Communist forces, and assorted  ¡Ã‚ §warlords ¡Ã‚ ¨, several Westerners were murdered. The Bucks escaped and had an extremely long day hiding, but were finally rescued by American gunboats.

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