Anne Rivers Siddons
Anne River Siddons was born in 1936 in Fairburn, Georgia, a small
railroad town just south of Atlanta, where her family has lived for six
generations. The only child of a prestigious Atlanta lawyer and his wife,
Siddons was raised to be a perfect Southern belle. Growing up, she did what was
expected of her: getting straight A's, becoming head cheerleader, the homecoming
queen, and then Centennial Queen of Fairburn. At Auburn University she studied
illustration, joined the Tri-Delt sorority, and "did the things I thought I
should. I dated the right guys. I did the right activities," and wound up
voted "Loveliest of the Plains."
After graduation, she worked in the advertising department of a large bank, doing layout and design. But she soon discovered her real talents lay in writing, as she was frequently required to writecopy for the advertisements. "At Auburn, and before that when I wrote local columns for the Fairburn paper, writing came so naturally that I didn't value it. I never even thought that it might be a livelihood, or a source of great satisfaction. Southern girls, remember, were taught to look for security."
It was in 1988, with the publication of her fifth book, the best-selling PEACHTREE ROAD, that Siddons graduated to real commercial success. Described by her friend and peer, Pat Conroy, as "the Southern novel for our generation." With almost a million copies in print, Peachtree Road ushered Siddons onto the literary fast track. Since then the novels have been coming steadily, about one each year, with her readership and writer's fees increasing commensurately. In 1992 she received $3.25million from HarperCollins for a three book deal, and then, in 1994, HarperCollins gave Siddons $13 million for a four book deal.
Siddons' success has naturally brought comparisons with another great Southern writer, Margaret Mitchell, but Siddons insists that the South she writes about is not the romanticized version found in GONE WITH THE WIND. Instead, her relationship with the South is loving, but realistic. "It's like an old marriage or a long marriage. The commitment is absolute, but the romance has long since worn off . . . I want to write about it as it really is: I don't want to romanticize it."
The House Next Door
Islands (April 2004)
John Chancellor Makes Me Cry