According to her stepson David Siddons, the cause of death was lung cancer. Anne was 83.
Born Sybil Anne Rivers on January 9, 1936, in Fairburn, Georgia, she went on to attend Auburn University, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.
Her debut novel, Heartbreak Hotel, was published in 1976 and tells the coming-of-age tale of a white woman in the Civil Rights era. The book’s protagonist, Maggie Deloach, faces the consequences of supporting integration in a story loosely based on her own experience at Auburn. It was made into the feature film Heart of Dixie, starring Ally Sheedy, Phoebe Cates, and Treat Williams, in 1989.
Anne went on to publish 18 more novels, many of them set in the Atlanta area, and a collection of essays. Much of her work was centered around critical observations of the region she loved. She is known for playing an essential part in a generation of writers who helped established “The New South.”
“She played a very important role,” her friend and fellow author Cynthia Graubart told The Post and Courier. “I think that Anne is the picture of what a Southern woman had to overcome in her life to break from the barriers of old expectations. Even when she landed on The New York Times bestseller list, her mother at the end of a phone conversation still said, ‘Have you ever done anything about your teaching certificate?’”
Author Stephen King recalls her modesty and irreverence.
“She was raised in a small town outside of Atlanta, in very ‘Southern Belle’ situation, and she rebelled against that,” he told the paper.
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Rest in peace, Anne.