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Whatever happened to Heidi?

Australian photographer Martin Mischkulnig’s interest in Heidi, Johanna Spyri’s plucky Swiss orphan, is the result of reading the story to his children, then visiting the places associated with her – “all the places which are in fact made up to serve the tourists interested in the story”. 

He says that ultimately the experience of visiting these places becomes “disappointing and sad” – what does a petrol station restaurant, a tea towel or a convention centre have to do with Heidi?

“In the story, Heidi was also passed from her aunt to grandfather and is then sent off to Frankfurt as a playmate to a rich man’s daughter,” he said. “So in the end Heidi is still being used against her will. Poor Heidi, the story continues…” 

Heidi, published in 1880, is by far the most popular work of Swiss literature. More than 50 million copies of Heidi books have been sold worldwide. The novels have been translated from German into 50 languages and filmed more than a dozen times, including a version starring Shirley Temple in 1937.

(Images: Martin Mischkulnig/13 Photo)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR