The name “Mr Darcy” is often associated with three words: tall, dark and handsome. But according to a group of leading academics, our fantasised TV depictions of Jane Austen’s 1813 creation are wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
A new, ‘historically accurate’ portrait of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy has been unveiled, and it turns out the romantic leading man from Pride and Prejudice would have been pale-skinned with white hair (thanks to his powdered wig), a long nose, sloping shoulders and a pointy chin, and would have been several inches shorter than advertised in modern day TV representations – 5ft 11″, compared with Colin Firth and Elliot Cowan’s 6ft 2″ and Matthew MacFadyen’s 6ft 3″.
Mark Darcy, the fantasy: Matthew MacFadyen, Elliot Cowan and Colin Firth
The study, The Real Mr Darcy, was carried out by John Sutherland of UCL and Amanda Vickery of Queen Mary and highlights how the qualities considered attractive have dramatically changed over the past two centuries.
The academics investigated Austen’s personal life and relationships to figure out who may have been the inspiration for Mr Darcy. Researchers also looked into the existing descriptions and illustrations of the character, along with the socio-economic and cultural factors that would contribute to Darcy’s background, appearance and lifestyle.
Artist Nick Hardcastle took the academic research and brought the descriptions to life in a series of illustrations. Hat tip too to the Drama channel, who commissioned the study to promote their Jane Austen Season, which starts on Sunday 12th February. Thanks for spoiling Mr Darcy for several generations of women…