Johanna Louise Heusser was born in Hirzel, near Zurich in Switzerland in 1827. She became Johanna Spyri in 1852 when she married the lawyer Johann Bernhard Spyri. The couple had one son named Bernhard Diethelm. Johanna's son and husband both died in 1884, after which she lived alone as a widow. She died in 1901 and is buried in Zurich.
Johanna Spyri wrote in German for grown-ups and for children. Her work was published for the first time in 1871, when she was 43 years old. By the end of her life she had published more than 70 books and short stories. Her most famous book, Heidi, was written in two separate parts, published in 1880 and 1881. Other books for children include Cornelli; What Sami Sings with the Birds; Rico and Wiseli; Toni, the Little Wood Carver; Moni the Goat-Boy; and Gritli's Children.
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