Having read The Good Earth in grade school, Pearl S. Buck’s description of China fascinated me. Hers was perhaps the first novel I’d read set outside the US or Europe. Upon discovering that her International Center was in our area, I resolved to visit but the resolution took years and COVID restriction to local travel to make it happen.
I should not have waited so long. Pearl S. Buck International was an amazing experience. The beauty of the land itself is the first gift of the visit. Flowers and trees are meticulously tended and complement the open fields. There is a greenhouse where seasonal flowers are raised much as they were when the family lived there.
This setting holds at its heart the gifts of Pearl S. Buck’s life and legacy. Her life is amply explained both through the house which is full of family artifacts, including the typewriter Buck used to write The Good Earth, and an exhibition center telling of her work. As a writer, Buck won a Pulitzer and a Nobel prize for her prolific career. At her death in 1973, she had published over 70 books in a variety of genres, including children’s stories, biography and poetry.
Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was the daughter of Southern Presbyterian missionary parents. Although born in the United States, she spent most of the first 40 years of her life in China. It was during a return to the US for college that Pearl Sydenstricker met and married John Lossing Buck. They had a daughter, Carol who suffered from severe mental development issues. Due to health issue, Buck was not physically able to have more children. The couple adopted a daughter, Janice. The Buck’s eighteen-year marriage was not a happy one. After their divorce, Pearl Buck would marry her publisher, Richard Walsh.
Buck’s adoption legacy started with The Welcome House, Buck’s earliest activism. Welcome House started as a place to bring orphans from overseas. Over time, Buck’s efforts expanded to allow US parents to adopt internationally. Eventually Welcome House placed over 7,000 orphans from around the world, including the US.
To visit, go to the website and sign up for a tour. The number of tours each day is limited, so it is important to sign up online. Tour options are the Pearl S. Buck Life and Legacy Tour and the Pearl S. Buck Taking Action Tour. Both are well-described on the website. The site is located at 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA