Johanna Spyri was born in the village of Hirzel, Switzerland on June 12, 1827. She was tutored at home and attended school both at home and in Zurich. She married Bernhard Spyri, a lawyer, in 1852 and moved to Zurich. She wrote her first story, A Leaf on Vrony's Grave, in 1871. She wrote numerous stories for both children and adults, but her most famous work was Heidi, which was published in 1880. Both her husband and son died in 1884. She spent her remaining years writing, raising her niece, and doing charity work. She died on July 7, 1901.