Anne Rivers Siddons (b. 1936)

Though all of her eighteen books have been set in Georgia or concern southerners living elsewhere, Anne Rivers Siddons is best known for books about Atlanta and its environs. Two novels, Homeplace (1987) and Nora, Nora (2000), take place in a fictionalized version of Fairburn, her hometown, in Fulton County. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, Go Straight on Peachtree (1978), a McDonald City Guide to Atlanta, and John Chancellor Makes Me Cry (1975), a series of essays patterned around the changing seasons in Atlanta. Most important, her novel Downtown (1994) recreates her early career as a writer and editor for Atlanta magazine. Her most commercially successful book, Peachtree Road (1989), portrays modern Atlanta's white elite on the eve of the civil rights era.
Siddons was born Sybil Anne Rivers on January 9, 1936, in Atlanta and reared in Fairburn. She is the daughter of Marvin Rivers, a lawyer, and Katherine, a secretary at Campbell High School. Her education at Auburn University from 1954 to 1958, where she earned a bachelor's degree, became the inspiration for her first novel, Heartbreak Hotel (1976), which subsequently became the film Heart of Dixie in 1989. At Auburn she worked as a writer for the college newspaper. An editorial she wrote favoring integration was recognized nationally but criticized by the school administration, and a second, similar editorial led to her dismissal from the newspaper. After college Siddons worked as a writer and editor at Atlanta magazine with its founder, Jim Townsend. In 1966 she married author and advertising executive Heyward Siddons. Her four stepsons are Lee, Kemble, Rick, and David.
Siddons's other books include a horror story set in Atlanta, The House Next Door (1978), which has been compared by Stephen King to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Fox's Earth (1981), among her best books, is the story of several generations of Georgia women. In King's Oak (1991) Siddons moves beyond Atlanta to the more traditional rural South and continues to reflect concern for the environment, evident in each of her books. In Outer Banks (1991), Colony (1992), Hill Towns (1993), Fault Lines (1995), Up Island (1997), and Low Country (1998), Siddons portrays southern characters, usually Georgians, but she places them in other parts of the South and the world. In Nora, Nora she returns to scenes of her earlier books set near Atlanta. Her two most recent novels, Islands (2004) and Sweetwater Creek (2005), are both set in the lowcountry of South Carolina.
Siddons resides with her husband in Charleston, South Carolina, where she moved in 1998. In 2007 she was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.
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Further Reading
Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series, vol. 81 (Detroit: Gale, 1999), s.v. "Anne Rivers Siddons."

Contemporary Southern Writers, ed. Roger Matuz (Detroit: St. James Press, 1999), s.v. "Anne Rivers Siddons."

William Walsh, "Anne Rivers Siddons," Speak, So I Shall Know Thee: Interviews with Southern Writers (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1990).
Cite This Article
York, Lamar. "Anne Rivers Siddons (b. 1936)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 04 September 2013. Web. 23 August 2014.
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