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What Did Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy Really Look like?

Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy has long held a reputation as one of the most eligible bachelors in English literature. Many have imagined the brooding Fitzwilliam Darcy as tall, dark, and handsome, a wealthy, aristocratic leading man loved by generations of readers. In film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, he has been played by Laurence Olivier (1940) and Matthew Macfadyen (2005). And who can forget Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries. But now, in a study commissioned by the British television channel Drama, researchers have put together the first “historically accurate portrait” of Mr. Darcy. And surprisingly, they say he probably wasn’t all that "hunky" -- at least by 21st-century standards. In the 1790s, the ideal English gentleman would usually have had pale skin, a long nose, a pointed chin, and sloped shoulders. Instead of dark wavy hair, he would most likely have powdered his hair white, or worn a powdered wig.

Some like him hot:

  • “There are only scraps of physical description of Fitzwilliam Darcy to be found in Pride and Prejudice,” says John Sutherland, the academic who led the study. “He is our most mysterious and desirable leading man of all time.”

  • Nick Hardcastle, an illustrator for the project, says that Darcy would have had very muscular thighs and calves due to all the time that gentlemen spent fencing and horse riding.

  • “Darcy’s character has been sexed up for the modern-day audience with a turbocharged injection of testosterone and steamy romance,” says Amanda Vickery, a historian at Queen Mary University of London.

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More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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