Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In My Several Worlds: A Personal Record, Pearl S. Buck contrasts her life growing up in China with life in the United States. The book is divided into four sections; each section has a heading that identifies Buck’s location in the United States as she is writing. She then presents prior experiences to compare with her adult life. She describes the situation of American missionaries and teachers in China during the early 1900’s and prior to her exodus in 1934.

The first and shortest section establishes the framework for the book, as Buck identifies her circumstances at her home in Green Hills Farm, Pennsylvania, in 1953. She warns the reader that her story not only is incomplete but also will be told on “different levels” about “different places.” This first section focuses primarily on her childhood in China and introduces themes that will reappear in subsequent sections: the role of foreign governments in China, the impact of having Chinese as her primary language, the joy of being accepted by and living as a Chinese, and the difficulty of reconciling her Chinese life with her subsequent life in the United States.

The second section is set in various locations in the United States, as Buck traces her formal and informal education in China and the United States. Buck’s parents provided her with the best education possible, having her study with private tutors and at private girls’ schools in China and in Virginia....

(The entire section is 567 words.)


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Conn, Peter. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. London: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Doyle, Paul A. Pearl Buck. Boston: Twayne, 1980.

Harris, Theodore F. Pearl S. Buck: A Biography. 2 vols. London: Methuen, 1969-1971.

Spencer, Cornelia. The Exile’s Daughter: A Biography of Pearl S. Buck. New York: Coward, McCann, 1944.

Stirling, Nora. Pearl Buck: A Woman in Conflict. Piscataway, N.J.: New Century, 1989.

Zinn, Lucille S. “The Works of Pearl S. Buck: A Bibliography.” Bulletin of Bibliography 36 (October-December, 1979): 144-208.