Heidi (pronounced [ˈhaɪdi]) is a work of fiction written in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, originally published in two parts as Heidi's years of learning and travel (German: Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre) and Heidi makes use of what she has learned. (German: Heidi kann brauchen, was es gelernt hat) It is a novel about the events in the life of a young girl in her grandfather's care, in the Swiss Alps. It was written as a book "for children and those who love children" (as quoted from its subtitle).
Adelheid ("Heidi") is a girl who has been raised by her aunt Dete in Maienfeld, Switzerland after the early deaths of her parents, Tobias and Adelheid (Dete's sister and brother-in-law). Dete brings 5-year-old Heidi to her grandfather (her father's father), who has been at odds with the villagers and embittered against God for years and lives in seclusion on the alm. This has earned him the nickname Alp-Öhi ("Alm-Uncle" in the Graubünden dialect). Alm-Uncle briefly resents Heidi's arrival, but the girl's evident intelligence and cheerful yet unaffected demeanor soon earn his genuine, if reserved, affection. Heidi enthusiastically befriends her new neighbors, young Peter the goatherd and his mother and blind grandmother. With each season that passes, the mountaintop inhabitants grow more attached to Heidi.
Three years later, Dete returns to bring Heidi to Frankfurt am Main to be a hired companion to a wealthy girl named Clara Sesseman, who is regarded as an invalid. Clara is charmed by Heidi's simple friendliness and naïveté, and delights in all the funny mishaps brought about by Heidi's lack of experience with city life. However, the Semmens' strict housekeeper, Fräulein Rottenmeier, views the household disruptions as wanton misbehavior, and places Heidi under more and more restraint. Soon Heidi is terribly homesick, and grows alarmingly pale and thin. Her one diversion is learning to read and write, motivated by her desire to go home and read to Peter's blind grandmother. Clara's own grandmother visits the children and becomes a friend to Heidi. She teaches Heidi that she can always seek relief from misery by praying to God.
After months pass, the Frankfurt household is brought near hysteria by night sightings of what appears to be a ghost. When Clara's father and his friend, Clara's doctor, keep awake one night to find out what is causing the disturbances, they see that the "ghost" is actually Heidi, sleepwalking in her nightgown. The doctor sees that Heidi is under a great deal of stress. He cautions Clara's father that if Heidi is not sent home promptly, she may become very ill. Soon, a joyous Heidi returns to the mountains, where she teaches Alm-Uncle about the comfort of prayer. She reassures him that it is never too late to turn back to God. Her simple lesson prompts her grandfather to descend to the village and attend a church service for the first time in years, marking an end to his seclusion. He is heartily welcomed back by the church pastor and the villagers.
Heidi and Clara continue to keep in touch and exchange letters. A visit by the doctor to Heidi leads him to eagerly recommend that Clara visit Heidi. He feels assured that the fresh mountain air and the wholesome companionship will do her good. Clara makes the journey the next season and spends a wonderful summer with Heidi. Clara becomes stronger on goat's milk and fresh mountain air, but Peter, who grows jealous of Heidi and Clara's friendship, pushes Clara's empty wheelchair down the mountain to its destruction (although he later feels guilty about what he did and confesses to it). Without her wheelchair, Clara attempts to walk and is gradually successful. Clara's grandmother and father are amazed and overcome with joy to see Clara walking. Clara's wealthy family promises to provide care for Heidi, if there comes a time when her grandfather's no longer able to do so.
Film, television and theatrical adaptations
About 20 film or television productions of the original story have been made. The Heidi films were popular far and wide, becoming a huge hit and an iconic animated series in several countries around the world. The only incarnation of the Japanese-produced animated TV series to reach the English language was a dubbed feature-length compilation movie using the most pivotal episodes of the television series, released on video in the United States in 1985. Although the original book describes Heidi as having dark, curly hair, she is usually portrayed as blonde.
Versions of the story include:
- Heidi, a 1937 motion picture which starred Shirley Temple in the title role.
- Heidi, a 1952 film in Swiss German and German, directed by Luigi Comencini, starring Elsbeth Sigmund (filmed on location in Switzerland), and followed by a sequel, Heidi and Peter, in 1955, directed by Franz Schnyder, also starring Ms. Sigmund.
- A Gift for Heidi (1958), by George Templeton.
- Heidi (1959), music by Clay Warnick, adapted by William Friedberg with Neil Simon.
- Heidi, a 1965 German film, directed by Werner Jacobs.
- Heidi, a 1968 television movie which starred Jennifer Edwards with Maximilian Schell and Michael Redgrave. Infamous for interrupting an American football game that was broadcast the same day.
- Heidi (Disneyland Storyteller Record) a 1968 old time radio style adaptation of the story by Disneyland Records, with music by Camarata, recorded in London and starring Brenda Dunnich, John Witty and introducing (to American audiences) Ysanne Churchman as Heidi.
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps, a 1974 Japanese anime series directed by Isao Takahata for Zuiyo Eizo (later, Nippon Animation), dubbed into various languages. Compiled into an English-dubbed movie entitled The Story of Heidi.
- Heidi, a 1974 BBC adaptation starring Emma Blake.
- Heidi, a 1978 26-episode Swiss/German television series, starring Katia Polletin as the protagonis, which was dubbed into various languages, including English.
- The New Adventures of Heidi (1978), directed by Ralph Senensky.
- Heidi's Song, a 1982 animated film produced by Hanna-Barbera.
- Heidi, a two-part television miniseries from 1993, starring Noley Thornton as Heidi. Co-stars included Jane Seymour as Miss Rottenmeier, Jason Robards as Grandfather and Lexi Randall as Clara.
- Heidi, a 1995 animated film.
- Heidi, a 2005 animated film.
- Heidi, a 2005 live action film directed by Paul Marcus.
- Heidi 4 Paws, a comedic 2008 adaptation featuring talking dogs with the voice of Angela Lansbury.
Heidiland, named after the Heidi books, is an important tourist area in Switzerland, popular especially with the Japanese (and also in South Korea). Maienfeld is the center of what is called Heidiland; one of the villages, formerly called Oberrofels, is actually renamed "Heididorf." Heidiland is located in an area called Bündner Herrschaft; it is criticized as being a "laughable, infantile cliche" and "a more vivid example of hyperreality."
The two sequel books, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi's Children, were neither written nor endorsed by Spyri, but were adapted from her other works by her English translator, Charles Tritten, many years after she died.
There are some major differences between the original Heidi and the Tritten sequels. These include;
- Heidi, the original story by Spyri, shows the simple life of Heidi imbued with a deep love of children and childhood. Spyri mentioned that the work was "for children and those who love children". The sequels portray Heidi in a different manner, as she grows up and gets married.
- Heidi in the first book, Heidi, is described as having, "short, black curly hair", when she is around five to eight years of age. In Heidi Grows Up, when she is fourteen, her hair is long, straight and fair.
- In some English editions of Heidi the names of the goats are translated into English (Little Swan and Little Bear), while other editions use their original Swiss-German names, Schwanli and Baerli. In Heidi Grows Up only the names Schwanli and Baerli are used.
Basis for Heidi
In April 2010, a Swiss professorial candidate, Peter Buettner, uncovered a book written in 1830 by the German author Hermann Adam von Kamp. The 1830 story is titled "Adelaide: The Girl from the Alps" (German: Adelheide, das Mädchen vom Alpengebirge). The two stories share many similarities in plot line and imagery. Spyri biographer Regine Schindler said it was entirely possible that Spyri may have been familiar with the story as she grew up in a literate household with many books.
- 2521 Heidi (an asteroid named after Heidi)
- Swiss folklore
- Alpine people and culture
- History of the Alps
- Alpine transhumance (the traditional practice of moving grazing herds in the Alps between winter valleys and summer mountain pastures)
- Nathan Haskell Dole, translator of the 1899 edition
- "Swiss Literature (old link)". revue.ch. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved March 4, 2008.
- "Swiss Literature". admin.ch. Archived from the original on February 6, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2008.
- Meaning of „Heidi“ (German)
- Abend, Bernhard; Anja Schliebitz (2006). Schweiz. Baedeker. pp. 145–46. ISBN 978-3-8297-1071-8.
- Beattie, Andrew (2006). The Alps: a cultural history. Oxford: Oxford UP. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-19-530955-3.
- Simonis, Damien; Sarah Johnstone; Nicole Williams (2006). Switzerland. Lonely Planet. p. 274. ISBN 978-1-74059-762-3.
- Solomon, Michael R. (2006). Conquering consumerspace: marketing strategies for a branded world. Broadway: Amacom. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8144-0741-7.
- "Basis for Heidi". Heidi inspiration.
- Heidi at Project Gutenberg
- Heidi at Project Gutenberg (illustrated)
- Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre at Project Gutenberg (in German)
- Heidi, online at Ye Olde Library
- Heidi, human-read audio mp3 and m4b files at Free Classic Audio Books
- Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre, human read audio book in German at Librivox
- Heidi, English audio book at Librivox
- Heidi (in English) free downloads in multiple ebook formats
- Heidi's Land, The official Web site (in French) for the 1980s television show with Katia Polletin (Heidi) and Stefan Arpagaus (Peter)
- Remembering Heidi: Swiss Pride at its best, by Dr. Anton Anderssen
- Swiss Heidi may in fact be German, 
-  Johanna Spyri's stolen Alps story?