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Author Anne Rivers Siddons Dead at 83

Novels included 'Heartbreak Hotel' and 'Peachtree Road'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 13, 2019 1:00 PM CDT
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Anne Rivers Siddons at her Brooklin, Maine, cottage, in 2000.   (AP Photo/Amelia Kunhardt, File)

(Newser) – Anne Rivers Siddons, a best-selling Southern author known for novels Heartbreak Hotel and Peachtree Road, has died at age 83. News outlets report Siddons died Wednesday morning at her home in Charleston, South Carolina, the AP reports. Her stepson David Siddons said the cause of death was lung cancer. Siddons was born Sybil Anne Rivers on Jan. 9, 1936, in Fairburn, Georgia. She attended Auburn University in 1954 and wrote for the student newspaper, the Auburn Plainsman. Siddons wrote columns in the paper in favor of integration that brought her national attention and got her fired from the paper. Heartbreak Hotel, her first novel published in 1976, is loosely based on the experience. Siddons published 19 novels and one collection of essays. She also worked for Atlanta Magazine.

It was Peachtree Road, a bestseller about the changes in Atlanta and one of its families over the period from the 1940s to the 1980s, with which Siddons made her mark, per the Washington Post. A review said the novel "somehow manages to retain the grace and delicacy of the world it mourns," calling Siddons "a born teller of tales." Like Margaret Mitchell, the Atlanta author of Gone With the Wind, Siddons wrote about racial issues and the evolution of the South, including the fading of its traditions. "There’s no way not to love the South,” Siddons said in 1991. "It's such a rich place." But, she added, "You'd have to be a fool not to see what’s hurtful about it." Siddons is survived by four stepsons and three step-grandchildren.

(Read more obituary stories.)

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