In the minds and hearts of many 21st century authors, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is very much alive and has a lot more story to tell. What would Jane think? I posed that question, hypothetically, of course, since Miss Austen is long deceased, when I became of aware of all the novels and at least one made-for-TV film (Lost in Austen) being produced that feature a romantic leading man named Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, that most eligible bachelor from Pride and Prejudice. Most of the stories take us beyond the original story to imagine a life after his happy marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Some offer a back story of his life before even meeting her. Do a simple keyword search on “Darcy” in the library’s online catalog and narrow the topic to ficticious character, and the resulting hit list is five pages long! There are even more choices when you include Elizabeth Bennet in your search, but in my very unscientific tally, Darcy trumps Elizabeth as prime character in these derived stories.
So would our gentle author, Miss Austen, approve? Tough question. With her finely developed sense of irony and her generally sharp sense of humor, I think she’d get a kick out of all the permutations of her male leading character, though a few of the cheesier ones, especially those that portray him as a bodice ripper might elicit a gasp and some eye-rolling. If you disagree, I’d love to hear why.
If your pulse still quickens at the thought of the haughty but oh-so-handsome gentleman in well-fitting breeches, you are not alone. And, lucky you, if your fantasy image needs some bolstering, there are more ways to get to know Darling Darcy.
[Pictured Darcys in descending order: Colin Firth, Matthew MacFayden, Elliot Cowan]