Has Mr. Darcy been uncovered? A British historian claims she has discovered who famed author Jane Austen used to create the iconic literary character.
Anytime Fitzwilliam Darcy’s name is mentioned, millions of women swoon. The tall, brooding, dark, and very rich 19th century hero has been the subject of female romantic longings ever since Austen penned the beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice.
Through the years, there has been much speculation as to who Austen’s inspiration for the immortal character was, as many believe he was based on a real man. Despite his shortcomings, mainly his disdainful personality which bordered on rudeness, Mr. Darcy was much sought after by single ladies and their mothers.
However, the elusive bachelor, who inherits Pemberley, an estate in Derbyshire, after his father suddenly dies when he is just 21, remains immune to said ladies’ charms, until he meets the simple country Miss, Elizabeth Bennet. He falls head-over-heels in love with her and after a botched first proposal, decides to change his ways and win his lady’s heart.
Now, historian Dr. Susan Law claims she has uncovered the real Mr. Darcy and has established a “convincing argument” for tracking down the man behind the character, but admits she can’t be “100 percent” sure it’s actually him. This is not the first time there has been a theory as to who the eligible bachelor really was.
According to Law, after five long years of investigating the matter and reviewing letters, diaries, and other written publications, she has uncovered the real Mr. Darcy as the first Earl of Morley, John Parker. The aristocrat is described as “intense,” an adjective that definitely belongs to Austen’s hero.
The Earl was married to a good friend of Jane Austen’s, and Law says that the author visited the Earl’s home in Saltram House in Plymouth, Devon, during the time in which she wrote Pride and Prejudice at the end of the 19th century. There were rumors that Parker’s second wife, Francis — Austen’s friend — was the author of the novel, which was first published with the name First Impressions.
Dr. Law adds that the physical similarities between the Earl of Morley and the description of Mr. Darcy are “obvious.”
“It is clear that Jane Austen had very close links with the family. She sent Francis one of the first editions of Emma — when she only had 12 printed. Jane Austin’s brother Henry was also a university friend of the Earl of Morley. They were contemporaries and he then become a banker to his regiment and later the domestic chaplain to the Earl of Morley’s family.
We know how close Jane Austen and Francis were. She never came out and said ‘your husband was Mr. Darcy’ – so we can not say that 100 percent. It can be very frustrating and it is like trying to piece together a jigsaw.
It has been fascinating and I have been longing to find that cast iron bit of evidence. But after spending so long on it, I am pretty convinced.”
Law’s claim about the real Mr. Darcy being uncovered is likely to cause controversy among fans, many of whom believe the character simply came out of Jane Austen’s very fertile imagination and was based on many of the men she was associated with.
[Image via Focus Feature]