Siddons selected for Lifetime Achievement Award

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at Auburn University will celebrate best-selling novelist and alumna Anne Rivers Siddons by awarding her with the inaugural Women’s Leadership Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. A tribute to Siddons’ lifetime of achievement will be held on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center at 5 p.m.  The tribute is free and open to the public, and fans of Siddons’ novels are encouraged to attend.

The Women’s Leadership Institute Lifetime Achievement award recognizes an Auburn University alumna who has achieved national acclaim over a lifetime of successful and sustained contribution to culture through arts, humanities, business, or politics.

Dr. Barbara Baker, executive director of the Women’s Leadership Institute, explained that Siddons was selected “because of her long and successful career as a writer, and because of her literary and artistic depictions of the South, southern life, and particularly Auburn University.”

Siddons graduated from Auburn in 1958 with a degree in illustration and a minor in English and aspirations to be an illustrator and layout designer. Instead, she has enjoyed an illustrious career as a writer and has published 21 novels, most of which are set in Atlanta or surrounding areas.

In Heartbreak Hotel, Siddons’ debut novel that was chosen for this year’s CLA Reads program, she fictionalizes her days at Auburn during the tumultuous civil rights period. The novel recounts the event of her firing from The Auburn Plainsman as a columnist and gives detailed insight into the Auburn experience of the past. The book was also adapted into the film Heart of Dixie in 1989. 

Dr. Baker explained the significance of selecting Heartbreak Hotel for CLA Reads: “She helps us understand the fraternity/sorority culture and the significance of relationships to those who came before us. She helps us understand a host of things like the dating culture of yesterday, race relations, and all manner of social relationships. She shows us how the Auburn we know today was made from the Auburn of yesterday.”

“A Tribute to Anne Rivers Siddons” will feature a student art exhibition depicting themes from Heartbreak Hotel, a performance by the Auburn University Singers, a theatrical adaptation of Siddons’ letter to The Auburn Plainsman, and discussions of Siddons work by members of the Auburn University faculty.

Baker, along with other CLA professors, are holding several lectures and open discussions about the Heartbreak Hotel throughout the semester. Baker stated, “I expect students to identify themselves, their parents, and their grandparents and come to an understanding of how our community developed—what the Auburn family was and how it became what it is.” She continued, “Siddons herself is an outstanding role model for our students because of the national acclaim she has achieved, and it is important for them to know about the successful graduates that came before them.”

The Women’s Leadership Institute in partnership with CLA will host the tribute to Siddons at the 2013 Auburn Writers Conference.

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Last Updated: October 14, 2013