Johanna Spyri (Author) Johanna Spyri (1827–1901) was born Johanna Heusser at Hirzel, a pretty Swiss village about seven miles from Zurich, the daughter of a doctor, and one of a large family of children. She had a happy childhood, and married in 1852 a young lawyer friend of her brother's, Bernhard Spyri, moving to Zurich. The couple had one son, also called Bernhard, who never enjoyed good health, and his mother began making up stories to tell him. She first published one of these in 1870 to raise money for soldiers wounded in the Franco-Prussian War. Heidi was published in 1880, inspired by Johanna's love for the Alpine countryside of her youth, and was a great success from the start. In later life, after the death of her husband and son, Johanna took a young niece to live with her and devoted herself to writing and charity work. She published more than fifty books for adults and children, but none so famous as Heidi.