Pearl S. Buck Becomes the First American Woman to be Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1938 was awarded to Pearl Buck "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces".

One of the most popular American authors of her day, humanitarian, crusader for women's rights, editor of Asia magazine, philanthropist, noted for her novels of life in China. Pearl S. Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. The decision of the Swedish Academy stirred controversy, especially among critics who believed that Buck lacked the stature the Nobel Prize was intended to confirm. Nowadays Buck's books are generally considered dated although attempts have been made to rehabilitate her work.

The Swedish Academy today awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize for literature to Pearl Buck, American, author of 'The Good Earth' and other novels about China.

Pearl Buck, in private life Mrs. Richard J. Walsh, said yesterday morning, one hour after learning of her triumph, that she was taken aback with the totally unexpected honor. Speaking in the office of her publisher, John Day Company, 40 East Forty-ninth Street, she recalled her first words as follows:

'I said 'That's ridiculous,' and I suppose a great many others will say the same thing. Did Chinese expressions of gratitude come to mind? Certainly, I thought - though probably not aloud: 'O pu sing sin' (I don't believe it), but 'kung shi-kung shi' (congratulations).'