Skip to main content

Pearl S. Buck Writing Contest

All students enrolled in a West Virginia college or high school (or home schooled and high school aged) are invited to apply for the Pearl S. Buck Writing Competition.

Awards of $1,000 each will be given to an undergraduate and graduate student winner, and a high school winner will receive $250 and a scholarship to the WVU English Department’s annual West Virginia Writers' Workshop for summer 2019 ($600 value).


Winning pieces will be those that best reflect the life and values of Pearl Buck; the Selection Committee will base its decision on the extent to which the writing reflects one or all of the following topics that were of vital importance to Ms. Buck:

  1. Expression of appreciation for difference and different cultures, including but not limited to Appalachia and China;
  2. Rights of women;
  3. Rights of members of underrepresented groups.

Applicants must submit an original writing in any literary genre (e.g., fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, essay, children's literature, play writing, blog, etc.) no later than March 22, 2019. Word maximum is 5,000 with poetry entries being 1-3 poems. All applicants will be notified by May 15, 2019 of status.

Winners and runners-up will be published in online format and housed, for historical purposes, with the Pearl S. Buck collection at WVU. Winners and runners-up retain copyrights to their works, while granting a nonexclusive license to WVU to publish.

Questions should be addressed to Dr. Melanie Page at or (304) 290-3250.

Submit a Contest Entry

2019 Contest


Press Release

The Pearl S. Buck Advisory Committee and the Office of the President are pleased to announce the winners of the 4th annual statewide Pearl S. Buck Writing Competition.

Maya McKendall who will be attending Morgantown High School in Morgantown WV is the winner of the high school category. Ms. McKendall’s short story, “Morning Sun,” focuses on the relationship between a young girl with autism and her parents in China. As the high school winner, she was awarded a cash prize and a scholarship to the WVU Department of English’s West Virginia Writers’ Workshop.

Marshall University student Julia Wu, an English major from Huntington, WV, studying creative writing, takes home top honors in the undergraduate category. Ms. Wu’s winning entry was “We Were All Strangers” and shares stories and observations within the confines of President Trump’s inaugural speech.

The winner of the graduate category, Kayla Steinberger from Belle Center, OH, is a student at West Virginia University pursuing a Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis. Ms. Steinberger’s poem, entitled “Losing Comfort becoming Pearl” outlines the journey Ms. Buck took from her birth home and place to who she became as a woman of China and the world.

The Pearl S. Buck Writing Competition is open to West Virginia students in graduate, undergraduate, and high school categories, with top prizes awarded to entries in any literary genre that best reflect the life and values of author Pearl S. Buck.

Dr. Melanie Page, associate vice president for creative and scholarly activity and chair of the competition’s awards committee, said, “I continue to be impressed by our young writers each year and genuinely enjoy reading the diversity of entries we receive”.

2018 Contest


Press Release (DOCX)

2017 Contest


Press Release (DOCX)

2016 Contest


Press Release (DOCX)