Which Austen Couples Would Last?

All the great Jane Austen stories have fairy tale endings, but which of these seven iconic couples would be most likely to live happily ever after?

Pride and Prejudice - Austen Couples


Ah, the iconic Austen couple from Pride and Prejudice. It's almost sacrilege to even ask whether Lizzy and Darcy are utterly made for each other. Because of course they are, right? But the funny thing is they got off to such a rocky start, even compared to other romantic comedy pairings. First setting eyes on her at a ball, Mr Darcy rudely dismissed her as "not handsome enough" to tempt him, while Lizzy was understandably annoyed at his haughty pride.

But over time, a rich respect flowered between them: he was won over by her wit and warmth, while she was beguiled by his noble soul. They didn't just fancy each other - they came to genuinely like and admire each other. And just look at how they are in the sequel saga, Death Comes To Pemberley, where we catch up with the pair several years later, happily married and throwing balls. Even Wickham turning up with a corpse wasn't enough to spoil all of that. Not for long, anyway.

Long-term chances: Excellent. They'll stroll arm-in-arm into old age.

Catherine Morland (Katharine Schlesinger) and Henry Tilney (Peter Firth) in Northanger Abbey.

Catherine Morland (Katharine Schlesinger) and Henry Tilney (Peter Firth) in Northanger Abbey.


Northanger Abbey's Catherine Morland is Jane Austen's most imaginative heroine - to the point where she'd probably vex and annoy many eligible gentlemen. Utterly immersed in Gothic novels featuring creepy castles, dastardly villains and thwarted romances, she lets her morbid daydreams seep into her own everyday life. Even to the point of imagining that the father of her beloved Henry Tilney was a secret murderer.

It says a lot about Henry's personality that he was able to brush her far-fetched concerns away. Other men would have been put off by her melodrama, but Henry's witty, no-nonsense attitude made him the ideal person to bring Catherine back to reality with a bump. And let's not forget that Henry was ready to ignore his frightening father's disapproval to propose to her. If that's not a romantic gesture to swoon over, we don't know what is.

Long-term chances: Very good. He's the yin to her yang.

Anne Elliott (Amanda Root) in Persuasion.

Anne Elliott (Amanda Root) in Persuasion.


We desperately want Persuasion's Anne and Captain Wentworth to find happiness with each other, because they're just so wonderfully likeable. Anne Elliot is intelligent, strong, lyrical and long-suffering, while Fred Wentworth is gallant, dashing, kind and has a way of writing love letters that would move anyone to tears.

Plus there's the fact that she'd foolishly rejected his first proposal many years before the story begins, and the whole of Persuasion is about them tentatively getting back together and making up for lost time. But here's the issue: they've spent so many years remembering and romanticizing each other, how can they be trusted with their feelings now? Re-hashing old relationships is treacherous at the best of times, and it doesn't take a cynic to suggest that Anne and the Captain are looking at each other with rose-tinted glasses. Which might slip off when reality sets in.

Long-term chances: Dodgy. But hopefully they'll prove us wrong...

Mr Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller) and Emma (Romola Garai) in Emma.

Mr Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller) and Emma (Romola Garai) in Emma.


Can long-term friends suddenly fall into a serious relationship? Romantics will say say "Absolutely", but cynics may argue that it usually happens because the two friends have given up on the pursuit of other people and are ready to "settle" with each other. Well, Emma and Mr Knightley were certainly friends for a long time before tying the knot. In fact, being many years older, George Knightley had known Emma since she was a baby. Which is a little off-putting when you think about it.

There's no denying he's good for Emma - he's a moral, reasonable, sensible man, just the type to tame her reckless habits. But the fact is that Emma, despite playing Cupid for others, never really showed much of a romantic yearning for anyone herself. And there's definitely the sense that she's settling for Mr Knightley simply because getting married is the "thing to do", rather than because she's been overwhelmed by passion.

Long-term chances: So-so, but he definitely likes her more than she likes him.

Fanny (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and Edmund Bertram (Nicholas Farrell) in Mansfield Park.

Fanny (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and Edmund Bertram (Nicholas Farrell) in Mansfield Park.


They say nice guys finish last, but what if they meet a girl every bit as "nice"? That's what we have with Fanny and Edmund, who get together at the end of Mansfield Park after spending all their time being prudish and judgmental about everyone else. That's probably being a bit harsh, but it's certainly true that while most of the other characters were self-centred pleasure-seekers, both Fanny and Edmund stuck to their own rigid moral and ethical values. Boring, yes, but lovely too.

What this means is they're a lot less fun than the others, but they're also a true meeting of minds. It's also worth bearing in mind that, before getting together with Fanny, Edmund had been burnt by the glamorous, hedonistic Mary Crawford. By contrast, Fanny was a soothing balm, an ideal wife. And she of course had been in love with him all along. A win win.

Long-term chances: Outstanding. Their morals would prevent them from ever splitting up anyway.

Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan) and Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefield) in Sense and Sensibility.

Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan) and Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefield) in Sense and Sensibility.


In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is the "sense". The older of the Dashwood sisters, she is polite and proper, embodying all the values of middle-class society - despite her reduced circumstances. So it's rather appropriate that her love match in this great saga was someone similarly straight-laced: the nice, reserved Edward Ferrars.

How nice is Edward Ferrars? Well, he managed to get out of a very messy situation with Lucy Steele (secret engagement, inheritance issues, a sudden jilting) with all his dignity and honour intact. That takes some doing in the world of Jane Austen. While he certainly lacks the glamour of a Darcy, his personality certainly suits the down-to-earth Elinor, and it's doubtful they'd ever make eyes at anyone else.

Long-term chances: Solid. Good sense has paid off for them.

Colonel Brandon (David Morrissey) in Sense and Sensibility.

Colonel Brandon (David Morrissey) in Sense and Sensibility.


The word "rebound" is a vulgar one in the genteel world of Jane Austen. But let's not mince words: Marianne Dashwood was very much on the rebound when she got together with Colonel Brandon. It's true. All the way through Sense and Sensibility, Marianne was swooning over the young, dashing, poetic John Willoughby. She had also utterly dismissed the 30-something Brandon as a creaky old man.

And then what happened? Willoughby was revealed to be an unattainable rogue and rampant seducer of almost Wickham-like proportions. It was only then that Marianne slowly tried to be more like her sensible sister Elinor, and came to finally regard the upstanding Colonel Brandon as a match. A rational decision, yes, but it's not exactly Romeo and Juliet, is it?

Long-term chances: Poor. Marianne will be hankering for another pretty boy soon enough.