Took Hilary Spurling out for dinner tonight, biographer of the American writer, activist & Sinophile, Pearl Buck (1893-1973). Buck was the daughter of missionaries, spending the first half of her life in China - a turbulent time (what time wasn't in the 20th Century?!). Her novel, The Good Earth, based on her experiences of living amongst Chinese peasants, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938, by which time she'd been forced to leave and settle in the US. Her subsequent fairly trashy novels have overshadowed the other work she did in parallel: women's rights, anti-racism, mixed-race adoption, education... An overlooked figure.
Anyway, nice evening with the sprightly Spurling who'll give a couple of talks on Buck tomorrow & the day after before going off to Shanghai for more of the same. She's now writing a biography of Antony Powell. The photo is of Buck not Spurling!