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It is a truth universally acknowledged that every woman is in search of her own Mr Darcy, but one author claims to have unearthed the original man who inspired Jane Austen's romantic hero.

Dr Susan Law says she has uncovered documents and letters which prove that the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy was inspired by John Parker, the 1st Earl of Morley.

Like Mr Darcy, Parker was 'tall, dark and brooding' and also became embroiled in a sex scandal after it was discovered that his first wife had been unfaithful to him.


Dr Law says the new evidence shows that that Austen stayed at the Earl's country home Saltram House in Plymouth, Devon, in the early 1800s when Pride and Prejudice was written.

A series of letters also show that Austen was also good friends with Parker's second wife, Frances Talbot, who was herself a known author, and that the two often exchanged writing.

In fact, shortly after Pride and Prejudice first appeared anonymously, Dr Law says it was believed that Frances was the author, as the character of Mr Darcy fit her husband's profile so closely.

Dr Law, 52, an author and historian from Knielworth, Warwickshire, said: 'The physical similarities in them are obvious but there is also so much evidence to suggest the Earl was Mr Darcy.

'When Jane Austin published her two novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, she did so anonymously.

'The Earl's second wife Francis, who was well known in literally circles, was widely thought to be the author of those novels.

'The Earl was tall, dark, handsome and slightly brooding. There is a picture of him in 1805 image in his militia uniform and another in the library. He looks very intense.'

The Earl himself became mired in scandal after it was revealed that he had fathered three illegitimate children with his married mistress, leading his first wife, Lady Augusta Fane, to elope with a family friend before the two divorced in 1809.

It was already thought that the Earl's messy love-life likely provided the inspiration for Mansfield Park, but Dr Law now believes he likely inspired Mr Darcy as well.

Dr Law says she spent five years travelling the country unearthing old newspaper cuttings, diary entries, letters and other documents to prove Parker was Austen's inspiration. 

She added: 'We don't have the concrete evidence but I have discovered there were a lot of rumours about at the time and it is a convincing argument.

'There is a massive intriguing web around it. 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 per cent.

'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.'





cast iron:铸铁