He is literature’s most eligible bachelor: handsome, wealthy, and the inspiration for countless romantic spin-offs in the last 200 years.

Fans of the brooding Mr Darcy, then, may wish to look away now.

For leading academics have researched how Mr Darcy was likely to really have looked, and the results are a far cry from the tall, dark and handsome leading man fans may have imagined.

In fact, a real-life Mr Darcy of his day was more likely to have a long nose, pointed chin, powdered white hair and pale complexion, according to historians.

The team, led by Professor John Sutherland, have now unveiled what they claim to be the "first historically accurate portrait" of Mr Darcy.

They did so by looking into the "scraps" of description that writer Jane Austen provided for her famous character, portrayed in countless TV adaptations of Pride And Prejudice.

Austen's relationships and the men who may have inspired her character and the socio-economic, cultural and lifestyle factors of the time were also factored in by the experts.

The team subsequently concluded that, unlike Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen's depictions of Mr Darcy, he would have had slender, sloping shoulders and a modestly-sized chest. A muscular chest and broad shoulders would have been the sign of a labourer, not a gentleman, at the time.

His powdered mid-length white hair, meanwhile, would frame a long oval face and small mouth, a long nose, a pointy chin and a pale complexion.

"He is our most mysterious and desirable leading man of all time. What's fantastic about Jane Austen's writing is that Mr Darcy is both of the era and timeless."