It is almost Valentine’s Day! Need some 19th century dating advice? “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” Jane Austen taught us in her masterwork, Pride and Prejudice. Yes, in Ms. Austen’s time, the possession of a large fortune was certainly a good asset for a young bachelor in search of a wife, even something without which the most romantic of engagements could be broken off (think noble Anne Elliot and seaman Frederick Wentworth in Austen’s Persuasion).

But many women nowadays are earning their own “good fortune,” so why do handsome gentlemen like Mr. Darcy still captivate fictional and non-fictional women and men alike? A poll posted on our Instagram channel earlier this month showed us which other statuesque, brooding, handsome, rich heroes sweep contemporary readers off their feet. Read on to find out who is the most popular of these three all-time literary crushes: Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights).

The most Eligible Bachelor is…

Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen)
(74 % likes)

With his statuesque appearance, dark hair and proud demeanor, it is no wonder Mr. Darcy was chosen by our followers to be the most eligible bachelor on this list! But much of Mr. Darcy’s charm comes down to his remarkable character. He is intelligent and perceptive, but he is also playful and quick with a comeback to Lizzy’s many sneers: “Your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.”

“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them.”

But the line no doubt melting most readers’ hearts must be his confession to Lizzy, in which he shows his feelings run deep even though they were thought to be non-existent (still waters run deep…): “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë)
(64% likes)

Second after Mr. Darcy is Heathcliff, Emily Brontë’s anti-hero. He is surly, introspective, slightly manipulative but definitely passionate. Found on the streets, Heathcliff was adopted by Mr. Earnshaw and taken to his moorland estate to grow up among his own children. Never really fitting in the family, Heathcliff is teased and misunderstood, but he and Cathy, Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter, develop a friendship and even grow to love each other. But when Cathy chooses a richer and nobler man above her true love, it is the start of a complex relationship in which the two are parted but cannot forget each other: “I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong.” Is his loyalty, friendship and steadfastness what speaks for Heathcliff?

Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë)
(24% likes)

And finally, Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester. The huge gap in votes between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester is fascinating. Although both are introverted, passionate and stubborn men, there must be something Mr. Darcy possesses that Mr. Rochester just cannot compete with. Or, perhaps, Mr. Rochester has made himself less popular by the knowledge that he had locked his first wife up in a tower for years, and continuously accused his love interest Jane of being plain, common and occasionally even a witch! Mr. Rochester, however, does not mean anything by it, seeing that he considers himself her soulmate: “I would not – I could not – marry Miss Ingram. You – you strange – you almost unearthly thing! I love you as my own flesh. You – poor and obscure, and small and plain, as you are – I entreat to accept me as a husband.” We must admit, it sounds romantic!

And the list goes on! Here are a few secret literary crushes shared with us by our Instagram followers:

Vampire Edward Cullen from the Twilight Saga
Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
Drüskelle Matthias Helvar from Six of Crows
Empress Malini from The Burning Kingdom series
Henry Rios from the Michael Nava books