Sunday 25 February 2018

The real Mr Darcy: pointy-nosed and pale with white hair

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy
Colin Firth as Mr Darcy

Hannah Furness

He is literature's most eligible bachelor: handsome, wealthy, and the inspiration for countless romantic spin-offs in the last 200 years.

Fans of the brooding Mr Darcy, then, may wish to look away now.

Leading academics have researched how Jane Austen's character was likely really to have looked, and the results are a far cry from the tall, dark and handsome leading man fans may have imagined. In fact, a real-life Mr Darcy of his day was more likely to have a long nose, pointed chin, powdered white hair and a pale complexion, according to historians.

The team, led by Professor John Sutherland, have unveiled what they claim to be the "first historically accurate portrait" of Mr Darcy. They did so by looking into the "scraps" of description that Austen provided.

Austen's relationships and the men who may have inspired her character, and the socio-economic, cultural and lifestyle factors of the time were also factored in by the experts.

Her romances have been well-documented over the centuries, with possible influences including John Parker, the 1st Earl of Morley, and Thomas Lefroy.

The first historically accurate drawing of Mr Darcy. Photo: UKTV/Nick Hardcastle/PA Wire
The first historically accurate drawing of Mr Darcy. Photo: UKTV/Nick Hardcastle/PA Wire

Both men sported powdered hair and had long youthful faces with pale complexions.

The team subsequently concluded that, unlike Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen's depictions of Mr Darcy, the character would have had slender, sloping shoulders and a modestly-sized chest. His powdered mid-length white hair would frame a long oval face and small mouth, a long nose, a pointy chin and a pale complexion.

Large thighs and calves completed the look, while, at around 5ft 11in, the fictional character was slightly smaller than the stars who have played him. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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