Buck wrote the novel in Nanking, spending mornings in the attic of her university bungalow to complete the manuscript in one year (ca 1929). In 1952, the typed manuscript and several other papers belonging to Buck were placed on display at the museum of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York. It disappeared after the exhibit, and in a memoir (1966), Buck is said to have written, "The devil has it. I simply cannot remember what I did with that manuscript." After Buck died in 1973, her heirs reported it stolen. It finally turned up at Freeman's Auctioneers & Appraisers in Philadelphia around 2007 when it was brought in for consignment. The FBI were notified and it was handed over by the consignor.
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