When considering the quintessential romantic hero, few characters have come close to the strength, valour and all-out perfection of Austen’s dashing Mr Darcy.

As one of the most idealised and replicated literary characters of all time, Fitzwilliam Darcy has been played by a host of actors across film, theatre and television and around the world, from Hollywood to Bollywood. In the 1940s, we swooned over Laurence Olivier and, in the 1990s, he was iconised by Colin Firth and went on to seduce a new generation of fans as they watched him fall in love with hapless heroine, Bridget Jones.

Our panel, made up of historian, Carol Dyhouse, authors, Moni Mohsin and Janet Todd, will examine what it is about the character of Mr Darcy that has set the bar for heroic heartthrobs ever since. Why is it that this particular man has so enthralled audiences since the 1800s? Join us as we explore the origins of Mr Darcy and ask whether Austen created the ideal man because she was unable to find him in real life.

About The Speakers

Carol Dyhouse

Carol Dyhouse is Professor of History at the University of Sussex. She has published extensively on education and women’s history in modern Britain.  Carol has established a reputation for engaging, scholarly histories, and her books include Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women, and Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire.

Moni Mohsin

Moni Mohsin is a freelance journalist and author of two novels, the prize winning The End of Innocence and Duty Free. She has published two collections of satirical columns, The Dairy of a Social Butterfly and The Return of the Butterfly.

Janet Todd

Janet is a Lifelong enthusiast for Jane Austen, and the author of a spinoff, Lady Susan Plays the Game. She currently writes novels, her latest being A Man of Genius set in Venice in Austen’s period. Her revised biography of Austen’s greatest predecessor, Aphra Behn, is out this year.