Our final author in the Women’s History Month series is Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973). Pearl S. Buck was an inspirational American writer who is most widely known for her 1932 Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Good Earth.
A great deal of Buck’s childhood and adult life was spent in China. Many of her novels describe the peasant life in China, and try to bridge the gap between Americans’ views of Chinese people and reality. Buck changed history with her first-hand accounts of life in China and progressive humanitarian efforts that are visible in her written work. In 1938, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces.”
Buck became a prominent advocate of the rights of women and minority groups, and wrote widely on Asian cultures, becoming particularly well known for her efforts on behalf of Asian and mixed race adoption. She established Welcome House, Inc., the first international, interracial adoption agency. In nearly five decades of work, Welcome House has placed over five thousand children. In 1964, to support children who were not eligible for adoption, Buck established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation (now called Pearl S. Buck International) to “address poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries.” In 1965, she opened the Opportunity Center and Orphanage in South Korea, and later offices were opened in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. When establishing Opportunity House, Buck said, “The purpose… is to publicize and eliminate injustices and prejudices suffered by children, who, because of their birth, are not permitted to enjoy the educational, social, economic and civil privileges normally accorded to children.”
Pearl Buck died in March, 1973, just two months before her 81st birthday,
Maya Angelou is arguably the most famous African-American autobiographer and poet in history. Angelou opened up to readers and shared her controversial life stories without shame or censorship. Her candidness and unique literary style pushed the boundaries for all female writers. She has published six autobiographies, five books of essays, several books of poetry and is credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning 50 years.
Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult years. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. The recording of the poem was awarded a Grammy Award.
For her work, Angelou has been honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors have included a National Book Award nomination for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. In 1995, Random House recognized Angelou for having the longest-running record (two years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List. She has served on two presidential committees, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000,the Lincoln Medal in 2008 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Angelou has also been awarded over thirty honorary degrees.
American author, Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) is best known for her novel Little Women. Alcott received critical acclaim for her literary work, aswell as her involvement in various reform movements, including women’s rights and slavery abolishment. Through her professional and personal live, Alcott has inspired and empowered young girls and women to be independent and follow their dreams regardless of what society says.
Alcott began her writing career in 1860 for the Atlantic Monthly. When the Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse in the Union Hospital at Georgetown, DC. Her letters home were revised and published in the Boston anti-slavery paper The Commonwealth. She wrote of the mismanagement of hospitals and the indifference and hard-heartedness of surgeons she encountered.
In the mid-1860s, Alcott wrote sensational novels under the nom de plume, A. M. Barnard. Among these were A Long Fatal Love Chase and Pauline’s Passion and Punishment.
Alcott’s success rose with the 1868 publishing of Little Women. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood in Concord, MA . As the second of four daughters, she based the heroine “Jo” on herself. Three sequel novels were also published including Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.
Alcott continued to write up until her death at age 55.
As a woman-owned business and a company that prints books, it seems perfectly appropriate that we honor some of the female authors whose works changed history.
Our first author is Harper Lee, known for her 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although it is Lee’s only published book it made a huge impact. The powerful story deals with racial inequality and injustice in the Deep South. The book’s profound effect on its readers earned Lee a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
Lee was raised in Monroeville, Alabama, the youngest of five children where her father was a lawyer. As a child, Lee was a tomboy, a precocious reader and best friends with her schoolmate and neighbor, Truman Capote.
To Kill a Mockingbird is said to be an autobiographical story. Like Lee, the main character, Scout, is a tomboy who is best friends with a neighbor boy, Dill. Scout’s father is a well respected attorney in a small Alabama town where he defends a black man accused of raping a white woman which causes racial tension amongst the townspeople.
Over 30 million copies of To Kill a Mockingbird have been sold. The story was also made into an Oscar-winning movie in 1962.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the blockbuster book Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels. But there’s another story that doesn’t appear in the bound pages of the three book series.
It takes place in the small town of East Millinocket, Maine, home to the Great Northern Paper Mill which two years ago closed their doors due to tough economic times.
Last fall, Random House, publisher of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, found themselves in a pickle due to the unexpected spike in popularity of the books and needed paper. Lots and lots of paper. So they turned to the Maine paper mill which reopened its doors for the sole purpose of printing paper for the book series. The demand became so high that the mill almost couldn’t keep up.
Today Great Northern Paper reports that they not only are surviving, but thriving. A happy ending to a story that was saved by paper!
I read an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week speculating on the future of physical textbooks vs e-textbooks. The writer cited many cases where new technology was to replace old technology but in fact over time there has been a return to the “old ways.”
The author, Justin B. Hollander, states, “…we shouldn’t jump at a new technology simply because it has advantages; only time and study will reveal its disadvantages and show the value of what we’ve left behind.”
So in terms of paper textbooks, Hollander points out that they can be stored and easily referenced on a shelf. They are easy to read and don’t require battery or electrical power.
The thought that resonated with me most was “…the idea that every time a person reads a book, newspaper or magazine in the near future they will require an energy source is frightening.” I agree.
In an era where we are ever-conscious about our energy consumption, it seems that reading unplugged still has a place.
New Harbinger Publication’s title, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer reached #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List after an interview with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday series. The segment aired on August 5th and 12th. To view the interview follow this link: http://bit.ly/PZp1Ts.
Congratulations to Mr. Singer and the staff at New Harbinger Publications!