Classic Author Focus: Johanna Spyri

Johanna Spyri

Johanna Spyri was a Swiss author who is primarily known for writing the beloved children’s classic, Heidi.

Not much is known about Spyri’s life except that she was born in a canton of Zurich named Hirzel and spent most of her life in that area. The setting she used for her novels was Chur, where she spent most of her summers.

She married Bernard Spyri, a lawyer, and they lived in Zurich, where she began to write stories about living in the country. Her first story, about a woman struggling with domestic violence, was published in 1880. The following year, she published stories for both adults and children, and among the offerings for children was Heidi, about a young girl who is sent to live with her grandfather in the mountains. Her books are known for their insight into the mind of a child and her humor. Spyri wrote 16 books, according to one source to contribute money to the Franco-Prussian war.

Spyri had one child, Bernard, who died the same year as his father in 1884. For the rest of her life, she was devoted to charitable causes.

Dates: 1827-1901

Most popular work: Heidi

Other works: “A Leaf on Vrony’s Grave,” The Story of Rico, Griti’s Children, Vinzi: A Story of the Swiss Alps, and others

5 thoughts on “Classic Author Focus: Johanna Spyri

  1. Heidi was the first book I ever owned and it always brings back happy memories. Thanks for the information. I hope more people will find it interesting. You can also read it as an adult.

    The Japanese even made an animated series out of it years and years ago and it was very popular in Germany at the time. Plus, they’ve turned it into numerous films.

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