A leading Danish literary figure in the transitional period between Neoclassicism and Romanticism.
In 1782 he went to Copenhagen to study theology. Three years later he had an unprecedented success in Denmark with his first poems, Comiske fortaellinger (1785; "Comical Tales"). Later, after his libretto to the first Danish opera, Holger Danske, received adverse criticism, mainly because of its supposed lack of nationalism, Baggesen travelled through Germany, Switzerland, and France. The journey became the basis of his most important book, the imaginative prose work Labyrinten (1792-93), a "sentimental journey" reminiscent of the 18th-century English novelist Laurence Sterne´s work.
Baggesen was variously a Germanophile, a great admirer of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an ardent supporter of the French Revolution, a disciple of Kant, and a Romanticist and early admirer of Denmark´s foremost Romantic poet, Adam Oehlenschläger.
Late in life he vigorously opposed Romanticism, carrying on a seven-year feud with Oehlenschläger.