Photographer Credit: Jonas Normann

Helen Russell is a British journalist, bestselling author and speaker.

As the former editor of marieclaire.co.uk, Helen spent twelve years in London but when she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, she discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, the land of long dark winters, Lego and pastries. What was the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made?  


Helen decided there was only one way to find out and gave herself a year, to uncover the formula for Danish happiness - from family life to food; taxes to toymakers; SAD to some disturbing sexism; and design to daycare (not to mention 'hygge'). The Year of Living Danishly was the result - a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves. The book became an international bestseller, optioned for television, and Helen began to investigate happiness and the ways different cultures express their emotions on a global scale.

Helen went on to write the critically acclaimed Leap Year (2016)The Atlas of Happiness (2018), now translated into 21 languages, Gone Viking (2018) and How To Be Sad, published in March 2021.

Having spent the past eight years studying cultural approaches to emotions, Helen now speaks about her work internationally. She is a regular keynote speaker and host for organisations including Google, LEGO, Action for Happiness, TEDx and the How To Academy.

Helen currently lives in Denmark, working as a correspondent for the Guardian and writing for magazines and newspapers globally, including The Times and The Sunday Times, the Telegraph, the Independent, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, the Observer, Metro, Grazia, Stylist and Stella.

Follow Helen @MsHelenRussell