Mr. Darcy is one of literature’s most beloved characters. A lot of women have a lot of thoughts about the male lead of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, mostly thanks to Colin Firth’s portrayal of the snobbish sex symbol in the 1995 BBC television mini-series. Colin Firth is so associated with the character that he was even cast as his modern day prototype, Mark Darcy in the film adaptation of Bridget Jones’ Diary.
So, when an academic claimed to have found the real inspiration behind the character, who is universally acknowledged as tall, dark, handsome and very much loaded, we thought we’d be getting our eyes on a dose of Regency-era sexiness, via a blurry oil painting.
Dr. Susan C. Law is claiming that she has found the man who the character was based on after five years of researching Austen’s non-fiction writings – her letters and diaries. While researching her own book, Through the Keyhole: Sex, Scandal and the Secret Life of the Country House, Dr. Law pinpointed Mr. John Parker as the real-life Mr. Darcy. Here’s what he looked like:
While we’re not saying Mr. John Parker probably shouldn’t have walked around his expansive country estate in a wet shirt, we just doubt such a strut would have inspired the thousand gifs that Firth’s pecs did.
The Telegraph reports that Dr. Law, while not 100%, has found evidence pointing to Parker’s connection to Austen. The novelist was friends with his second wife, Frances, and spent time at the couple’s estate in Plymouth when she was drafting the novel. Through her research, Dr. Law has found evidence that Parker, who had the titles of the first Earl of Morley and Lord Boringdon, shared qualities with his alleged fictional counterpoint. Parker was perceived as “very intense”.
However, while Dr. Law’s conclusions are up for debate, we’re finding ourselves far more interested in Parker’s first wife, who he divorced after she left him for his friend. It was apparently a massive to-do and Parker’s relationship with his mistress was considered the impetus for Lady Augusta Fane’s infidelity. She married diplomat Sir. Arthur Paget after parliament granted her a divorce and they seem to have lived happily ever after according to Google. Scandalous women over stand-offish men of property every time.
And here’s a bit of fictional Mr. Darcy, the best kind, to cheer us all up.
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun