News room: The Importance of Being Ginger

The Importance of Being Ginger by Jessica Barrah

Ahead of Prince Harry’s nuptials, we take a look at the importance of being ginger in literature and mythology.

1. Cain (from the best selling book, The Bible)

The bible has lots of redheads for a book based in the Middle East. Apparently Eve’s hair turned red after eating the apple…a strange reaction to fruit, but cheaper than a L’Oreal permanent dye job. Her firstborn son Cain murdered his brother Abel, and received a mark from God – which could have been the ‘punishment’ of red hair, according to some – although others might argue that was a lovely gift. Back-stabbing Judas is often represented as a redhead, but so is King David (of giant killing fame).

2. King Arthur

There’s supposedly a legend that King Arthur had red hair – or at least ‘strawberry blonde’ tresses – and ginger hair has been linked with royalty and the leaders of England for centuries. Another legend says that at times of strife in England, a red-headed leader would arise to lead the country. Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Boudicca and Winston Churchill were all red-heads (when Winston actually head hair). The ‘leading England’ part didn’t quite happen with another carrot top, Neil Kinnock…

3. Uriah Heep

The evil foil for ‘goodie’ David Copperfield in Dickens’s novel, Uriah is described as a ‘cadaverous’ youth, with snakelike movements, and not only red hair, but lashless red eyes! Really, Uriah doesn’t sound like a heap of fun.

4. Anne of Green Gables

Breaking a slate over her future husband, Gilbert Blythe’s head when he teased her about her ‘carrot’ coloured hair, the feisty Canadian orphan lived in hope that the colour would deepen as she grew up into a ‘real nice auburn’. Impatient for her hair’s hue to darken, she accidentally dyed her hair green with cheap dye from a travelling pedlar. Should have gone to Superdrug.

5. Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking is an inspiration for red-headed freckle-faced children and female weightlifters everywhere. Living alone at 9 years old, with a horse and a monkey for company, financially independent with her stash of gold coins, her fearless attitude to life and strength to lift her horse with just one hand makes her one of the coolest coppertops of all time.

6. The Weasley Family

The most famous all fictional ginger families since the Pontipee brothers (of the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in case you didn’t know), the Weasley siblings attend Hogwarts and help Harry Potter find the platform for the Hogwart’s Express. Red Ron Weasley becomes Harry’s best friend, and flame haired Ginny Weasley eventually becomes Harry’s wife. Gingertastic!

7. Game of Thrones

Ok, so I confess I haven’t actually read any Game of Thrones books. But as the How To Be A Redhead website mentions, “If redheads really do make up only 2% of the world’s population, then Game of Thrones has cast about 1.9% over the past several seasons.” Redheaded women and men are seen as royal, proud, wilful, passionate, unpredictable, fiery and wild – no wonder it’s the hairshade of choice for this medieval fantasy epic.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into ginger – do let us know your own favourite redheads in literature!

Further reading:

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Written by
Jessica Barrah
Published on
Ginger, Literature, Royal wedding, Redhead, Characters, and Hair