Bette Bao Lord is a Chinese American writer and civic activist for human rights and democracy.
With her mother and father, Dora and Sandys Bao, she came to the United States at the age of eight when her father, a British-trained engineer, was sent there in 1946 by the Chinese government to purchase equipment. In 1949 Bette Bao Lord and her family were stranded in the United States when Mao Zedong and his communist rebels won the civil war in China. Bette Bao Lord has written eloquently about her childhood experiences as a Chinese immigrant in the post-World War II United States in her autobiographical children's book In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. In this book she describes her efforts to learn English and to become accepted by her classmates and how she succeeds with the help of baseball and Jackie Robinson.
Bette Bao Lord is a distinguished international best-selling novelist and writer, and served as chair of the Board of Trustees of Freedom House.
Her second novel, Spring Moon (1981), set in pre-revolutionary China, was an international bestseller and American Book Award nominee for best first novel. The Middle Heart (1996) spans 70 years of modern Chinese history, ending in 1989 with the student-led demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. Her children's book, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, has become a classic used in schools nationwide. Her true stories of Chinese people, Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic, was also a bestseller and chosen by Time Magazine as one of the five best non-fiction works of the year. Ms. Lord's works have received numerous awards and been translated into 15-20 languages.
In addition to chairing Freedom House, Ms. Lord has served on many other boards including the Newseum, The Freedom Forum, the International Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Council on Foreign Relations and WNET.
Bette Bao Lord received an MA from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and her BA from Tufts University. She married Winston Lord, later an Ambassador to China, in 1963, and they have a daughter, Elizabeth Pillsbury, and son, Winston Bao.
Bette Bao Lord is a recipient of seven honorary degrees (including Notre Dame, Tufts, and Pepperdine) and many awards as author, democracy advocate and outstanding immigrant. These include the USIA Award for Outstanding Contributions. President Clinton in 1998 presented her the first Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and hailed her as "someone who writes so powerfully about the past and is working so effectively to shape the future."