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Historically Accurate Portrait of Mr. Darcy Isn’t What You’d Expect

Who could forget the dashing Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy played by Colin Firth in the 1995 mini series of Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice? Or maybe you prefer Matthew Macfadyen’s portrayal that happened just a few years later? Either way, we’ve come to think of Mr. Darcy as tall, dark, and handsome, but historians say that’s not what Austen had in mind.

According to The Guardian, historian and author Amanda Vickery teamed with noted academic John Sutherland and illustrator Nick Hardcastle to determine what Austen probably thought of when describing Mr. Darcy. In the novel, Mr. Darcy isn’t described in great detail. He is said to have been tall with “handsome features” and a noble presence. Sounds like Colin Firth to me. 

Image courtesy of GIPHY

When Austen wrote the novel in 1790, men who were broad shouldered, tanned, and toned usually indicated that they were working class, not aristocratic gentlemen. That’s why Hardcastle’s illustration portrays Mr. Darcy as pale with narrow features, and of course, a stylish powdered wig. 

Image courtesy of The Guardian

The new illustration may not look like the heartthrob that we’ve all imagined, but in Austen’s time he still would have been a total ladies’ man.   

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Nick Hardcastle/UKTV