If you’re of a certain age, Pearl S. Buck‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel THE GOOD EARTH was considered to be required reading (the book hasn’t aged all that well, so those of my generation and younger haven’t been exposed to the book in schools or gone looking for it.) So the news, reported today by the Philadelphia Inquirer, that the FBI has recovered the original manuscript – considered to be lost for over 40 years and deemed “priceless” – may be of interest.
“The manuscript has been missing since at least 1966 and is considered priceless,” the FBI said in a news release yesterday about the manuscript, which has been consigned to auction by the Samuel T.Freeman Co. auction house. Buck, who died in 1973 in Vermont, lamented to an author about the disappearance of the original masterwork from her Bucks County home. “The devil has it!” she said. David Bloom, Freeman’s vice president of manuscripts and books, said the document contained “a large number of annotations in her hand, including changes of phrases that would be of real interest to Pearl S. Buck scholars.” The consignment also included several letters to Buck from world figures.
Buck’s son Edgar S. Walsh, administrator of the estate, said his heart jumped into his throat after getting a call about the manuscript he had reported stolen more than 30 years ago. “When I heard a manuscript had been recovered, I said, ‘Bingo!’ ” said Walsh. He added the estate, which owns the literary rights to Buck’s works, would claim ownership of the manuscript.