When Heidi’s Aunt Dete brings the orphaned girl to live with her grandfather, no one can imagine the bitter, solitary old man caring for a child. But, to everyone’s surprise, the two grow to love each other—and Heidi blossoms in her new home. Johanna Spyri’s charming story—and spirited heroine—have won children’s hearts for more than a century.
Johanna Louise Spyri (née Heusser) (German:12 June 1827 – 7 July 1901) was a Swiss-born author of novels and best known for her children's stories, and is best known for her book Heidi. Born in the rural area of Hirzel, Switzerland, as a child she spent several summers in the area around Chur in Graubünden, the setting she later would use in her novels.
In 1852, Johanna Heusser married Bernhard Spyri, a lawyer. While living in the city of Zürich she began to write about life in the country. Her first story, A Note on Vrony's Grave, which deals with a woman's life of domestic violence, was published in 1880; the following year further stories for both adults and children appeared, among them the novel Heidi, which she wrote in four weeks.
In April 2010 a professor, searching for children's illustrations, found a book written in 1830 by a German history teacher, Hermann Adam von Kamp, that Spyri may have used as a basis for Heidi. The 1830 story is titled Adelaide - das Mädchen vom Alpengebirge—translated, "Adelaide, the girl from the Alps". The two stories share many similarities in plot line and imagery. Spyri biographer Regine Schindler said it was entirely possible that Spyri may have been familiar with the story as she grew up in a literate household with many books.