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'Real' Mr. Darcy was no Colin Firth

June 10, 2008 at 2:54 PM   |   Comments

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LONDON, June 10 (UPI) -- A portrait headed for the auction block reportedly shows what the Irishman believed to have inspired Jane Austen's iconic Darcy character really looked like.

Darcy, the handsome, reserved, romantic hero in Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," has been played by Laurence Olivier and Matthew Macfadyen on the big screen and by Colin Firth in a wildly popular BBC miniseries. Firth also played an updated version of the Darcy character in two "Bridget Jones" films.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said a tiny, watercolor portrait of Tom Lefroy depicts the man -- who may at one time have won Austen's heart and inspired the Darcy character -- as a "pale, skinny student with wispy grey hair and girlish looks."

Lefroy was played by James McAvoy in the 2007 film "Becoming Jane," a bio-pic about Austen, one of England's most beloved writers.

The 1798 portrait of Lefroy is expected to sell for $100,000 when it goes on sale at the Grosvenor House art and antiques fair next week in London, the Telegraph said.

It was thought to have been painted two years after his brief romance with the author ended. Austen never married.

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