Johanna Spyri was born Johanna Louise Heusser in Switzerland, the fourth of six children of a village doctor and his wife. Her rural home was at the foot of the Alps, just south of Zürich. As a child, she spent several summers in the area around Chur in Graubünden, a setting she would later use in her writing. She was tutored at home, attended the local school, then studied languages and piano in Zürich. In 1852, she married Bernhard Spyri, a lawyer, with whom she had a son. The couple moved to a home in Zürich overlooking the lake where she wrote her first novel, A Leaf on Vrony's Grave (1871), published anonymously when she was 43 years old. Based on its success, she became a prolific author of works for adults and children. Her book Heidi's Apprenticeship Years (1880) was so popular that she produced a followup, Heidi Uses what She Has Learned (1881). Together, the two works make up the novel now called simply Heidi— the work for which she is remembered today.