There are so many fictional men we want to marry out there that I’m really starting to think we’re doomed to disappointment in reality. I don't know about you, but attractive men have been rather thin on the ground for me recently. We all know that it takes a lot of effort and a lot of tears to find that one man that you know is 'the one.' However, I know a place where you can find the men of your wildest dreams - and it's between the pages of your favourite books. Okay, so a book isn't going to literally keep you warm at night, but a beautiful book can warm your soul - especially when it contains a dashing hero, full to the brim with honour and chivalry, complete with the kind of richly imagined beard that only comes from nineteenth century literature. So, here are the fictional men we want to marry, beards and all.
1. Mr Darcy
Out of all the fictional men we want to marry, Mr Darcy is the original and the best. He’s been kicking around since the 1800s, but age has only served to increase his appeal. We don't know whether it’s the self-assuredness, the slight arrogance or the ardent love he professes for Elizabeth and his strong sense of moral duty, but Mr Darcy possesses a kind of enduring magic that's made him most women's perfect man. Plus, there was that scene where Colin Firth came out of the lake in a dripping wet white shirt.
2. Mr Rochester
Oh, Mr Rochester – he’s my favourite, and I didn't even care that he had a crazy wife locked in his attic. We all secretly like a bad boy, and Mr Rochester has exactly the right mix of brooding anger and passion to ensure we can look past all his issues.
3. James Bond
Probably one of the most famous womanisers in literary history, James Bond is the ultimate smoothie. He's got looks and charm, we know he could protect us in a fight and he's got all those gadgety things.
4. Romeo Montague
Well. You couldn't really leave the most famous lover in history off the list, could you? Try something for me; can you picture a Romeo with a beer gut and unkempt facial hair? I doubt it. And who doesn't want a guy who's going to compare your beauty to the sun and the stars?
5. Count Dracula
Vampires may be mass murderers but that hasn't stopped women lusting after the idea of them - and Count Dracula was the very first. There's a reason all the vampire fiction and films we see now feature almost exclusively the brooding and incredibly handsome with a touch of danger type, and that’s because of this guy. The reason vampires have proved so popular and so enduring is because it’s not just danger - it's seduction.
6. Gilbert Blythe
A small part of me has been in love with Gilbert Blythe since I first read Anne of Green Gables as a child. And really, who wouldn't be? He loves Anne even as an outsider, he supports her in everything she does and he waits patiently and devotedly whilst she realises that actually, he's the man for her.
7. George Emerson
The leading man from A Room With A View, Emerson defied Edwardian convention for illicit love with Miss Lucy Honeychurch. Any hint of the forbidden tends to go down well with readers, especially when it comes complete with corsets and pantaloons - and beautifully written prose, obviously.
8. The Prince from Every Fairytale, Ever
In real life we might be able to earn our own money and fight our own battles but sometimes, we all like a bit of escapism. There are certainly times in my life when I momentarily wish some dashing man would ride in on a white knight, solve all my problems and make me a princess.
Of course, there are a couple of obvious ones I could have included on this list - namely Edward Cullen and Christian Grey - if I so wished. Unfortunately, Prince Charming is the furthest I can allow myself to go in terms of masochistic characters. Sorry! Which literary male leads fire up your imagination?