The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Andrew Maykuth reports that the long-squabbling heirs of Pearl S. Buck‘s legacy have discovered a way to resolve their complex litigation: Banish the lawyers. The Nobel laureate’s children and Pearl S. Buck International, the charity in Bucks County the writer established before her death in Vermont in 1973, announced an amicable settlement yesterday of their dispute over who owns the recently recovered manuscript of The Good Earth, Buck’s masterwork.
Buck’s surviving children will retain ownership of the 400-page typescript of the novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and which was instrumental in her winning the Nobel Prize six years later. Under the agreement, the hand-edited document, which mysteriously disappeared and was missing for more than four decades before it resurfaced in June at a Philadelphia auction house, will go on public display later this month at Buck’s restored home near Perkasie, where the nonprofit is headquartered.
So how did this happen? By getting rid of lawyers. “We were working through lawyers,” said Janet L. Mintzer, the nonprofit’s executive director. “After this happened, we sat down with Edgar [Walsh, Buck’s son and administrator of the family trust] one-on-one without attorneys in the room. It was just so much better.” John E. Long Jr., chairman of Pearl S. Buck International, agreed. “I don’t think it was Pearl Buck’s intent to have everybody at each other’s throats over this,” Long said. “This is the first time in 30-some years that everyone is talking nice, and that’s important.”