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The real Mr Darcy has been revealed and it's not like the Colin Firth we pictured
Forget any idea of Colin Firth as the heartthrob in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
She would have envisaged her Fitzwilliam Darcy as a romantic hero with sloping shoulders, powdered white hair, a long nose, pointy chin and a pale complexion.
As for his physique, he would have been more ballet dancer than beefcake.
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That's the conclusion of a month-long research project by John Sutherland, Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and Amanda Vickery, Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London.
They embarked on their study, The Real Mr Darcy – a dramatic re-appraisal, to mark the launch of the Jane Austen Season, on TV channel Drama, which starts on Sunday 12 February.
Together with editorial artist and illustrator Nick Hardcastle they created the first historically accurate portrait of how Darcy would have looked in the 1790s.
And it's a far cry from the tall, dark, handsome sex symbol played over the years by Matthew MacFadyen, Elliot Cowan and Colin Firth.
He was shorter, paler and less handsome than TV would have us believe
Their key findings were that he'd have had:
• Powered mid-length white hair
• A long oval face with a small mouth, pointy chin and long nose
• Pale complexion – pink and white skin
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Forget any idea of Colin Firth as the heartthrob in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
• Slender sloping shoulders and modest chest
• Large quads, thighs and calves
• A height of 5ft 11" (compared to Colin Firth's 6ft 2" and the 6ft 3" Matthew MacFadyen).
As for his physique, he would have been more ballet dancer than beefcake
The academics investigated Austen's personal life and relationships, drawing conclusions on who may have been the inspiration for Mr Darcy.
Researchers 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.
Their study reveals that he real Darcy would "have smooth, unmarked skin and must have escaped the ravages of small-pox. Odds-on he was as pale as marble, with something of the classical statue…
"The young man, John Parker, whom Jane Austen is supposed to have modelled Darcy, had hair as long as Elizabeth Bennet's…
"Darcy's teeth will not yet be decayed. He may well, unlike the mass of the English population, carry them into late life…
"Darcy may well have smelt of musk or flowers. Perfumes were unisex in the period.
Giant Mr Darcy sculpture causes a splash Mon, July 8, 2013
Colin Firth's eye-popping lake scene from Pride And Prejudice has been brought to life once again.
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Colin Firth's scene from Pride And Prejudice has been made larger than life
Darcy's physicality conveyed a trained & highly controlled gracefulness. A real gentleman carried himself like a gentleman, not an awkward, clumsy clod." And as for his physique, this is their somewhat disappointing conclusion: "It was all about the legs.
"The six pack was unknown and square shouldered bulk was the mark of the navvy not the gentlemen. Chests were modest and shoulders sloping. Arm holes cut high and to the back rather pinioning the man within. The general effect was one of languid, graceful length not breadth. More ballet dancer than beef-cake."
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