LONDON (Reuters) - Mr Darcy, the romantic hero of Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice," has been portrayed by a string of showbusiness heart-throbs, but a new study suggests he would probably have looked very different from the modern ideal of masculinity.
Austen is likely to have had in a mind a man with sloping shoulders, white powdered hair, a pale complexion, thin oval face and a small mouth, according to academics who were asked to advise on the most historically accurate look of Mr Darcy, to mark a television series celebrating the writer's work.
The late 18th-century depiction of masculine beauty may disappoint the image that many women have of Mr Darcy who has been played in cinema and television versions of the book by actors such as Laurence Olivier and Colin Firth.
"Darcy's character has been sexed up for the modern day audience with a turbo-charged injection of testosterone and steamy romance," said Amanda Vickery, a history professor at Queen Mary University of London.
"Men sported powdered hair, had narrow jaws, and muscular, defined legs were considered very attractive, a stark contrast to the chiselled, dark, brooding Colin Firth portrayal we associate the character with today."
The research was commissioned by television channel Drama ahead of the launch of its Austen season.
Writing by Lea Dartenne; Editing by William Schomberg