Forget Colin Firth: Mr Darcy's 'real' looks revealed

Forget Colin Firth: Mr Darcy's 'real' looks revealed

Forget Colin Firth and his wet shirt. The real Mr Darcy would have had sloping shoulders, a thin oval face and white powdered hair.

A group of academics were asked to advise on the most historically accurate look of the romantic hero of Pride and Prejudice – and have come up with a very different portrait from the handsome man portrayed in countless adaptations of Jane Austen’s classic.

Far from being dark and handsome, Mr Darcy would have likely have powdered mid-length white hair, a long oval face and a small mouth, a long nose, a pointy chin and a pale complexion.

He likely would have been slender, as at the time a muscular chest and broad shoulders were the sign of a labourer rather than a gentleman.

At around 5 ft 11in (180cm) the fictional character was slightly smaller than some of the stars who have played him.


The first historically accurate drawing of Mr Darcy, created by artist Nick Hardcastle
Image Caption:
The first historically accurate drawing of Mr Darcy, created by artist Nick Hardcastle

Firth famously played Mr Darcy opposite Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth Bennet in a 1995 BBC adaptation of the novel. Generations of women have watched Firth’s Mr Darcy take a dive into Pemberley lake and emerge with a soaked shirt (a scene not to be found in the book).

In the 2005 movie, it was Matthew Macfadyen to play Mr Darcy to Keira Knightley’s Miss Bennet.

The academics looked into the “scraps” of description that Austen provided for her famous character and the men who may have inspired her character.

Socio-economic, cultural and lifestyle aspects of the time were also factored in by the experts.


Matthew MacFadyen, here with Keira Knightley, played Mr Darcy in a 2005 movie
Image Caption:
Matthew MacFadyen, here with Keira Knightley, played Mr Darcy in a 2005 movie

“Darcy’s character has been sexed up for the modern day audience with a turbo-charged injection of testosterone and steamy romance,” said Amanda Vickery, a history professor at Queen Mary University of London.

“Men sported powdered hair, had narrow jaws, and muscular, defined legs were considered very attractive, a stark contrast to the chiselled, dark, brooding Colin Firth portrayal we associate the character with today.”

Professor John Sutherland, Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London, who led the research, said: “There are only scraps of physical description of Fitzwilliam Darcy to be found in Pride and Prejudice.

“He is our most mysterious and desirable leading man of all time.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death. The research was commissioned by television channel Drama ahead of the launch of its Austen season.

Source: Sky News – Entertainment

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