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Heathcliff V Darcy – Who is the biggest sh*t? – Cheltenham Literature Festival REVIEW

Two of the most iconic romantic characters of all time. Head to head. To find out who is the biggest shit. 

I kicked off my time at Cheltenham Literature Festival with an event that really intrigued me when flicking through the programme. The battle of Heathcliff vs Darcy is one that remains unsolved to this day and I was very keen to be part of deciding on who really is the bigger shit.

The 4 authors to put forward their views were Sebastian Faulks and Dolly Alderton who were arguing that Darcy is the biggest shit and Sarah Moss and Philip Hensher who were arguing that Heathcliff was the biggest shit.


Dolly was up first with an empowering speech on the likes of men like Mr Darcy. She said that she had been “single for a decade so strap in.” Dolly was funny and witty and brilliantly analysed Darcy in a way nobody else did. She began her argument strong saying he needed to “check his privilege” and ended even stronger stating “The clue is in the title, it’s all about his pride and his privilege.

Sarah Moss’s points were short and sweet, much like her. She kept things straight, simple and to the point, so it was tricky to dispute her points. She had a great response to Dolly’s speech, I just wish we were treated to more of her thoughts on Heathcliff and his behaviour.

Next up was Sebastian Faulks who did not hold back. His in-depth analytical approach showed he had really done his homework on Mr Darcy . His literary analysis was jam-packed full of quotes to back up his argument that “this man shouldn’t be allowed within the pages of a book.”


Finally, Philip Hensher, who I can’t explain in any other way than blowing the competition out of the water. His core argument that “Heathcliff is a shit, Darcy is, to be precise, an arsehole” began with the definition of a “shit” and then went onto argue that because Darcy is unaware of his bad behaviour this makes him an arsehole, leaving Heathcliff as pure shit and therefore winning the argument. His scenarios of gay nightclubs and comparisons of rockstars and novelists had the audience in stitches and convinced me (and everyone else I spoke to) that Heathcliff was indeed the biggest shit.

An almost unanimous show of hands in favour of Heathcliff at the end of the session. The hour flew by with debate and questions from the audience to dissect further into this decision, but Philip’s theory had us convinced. Heathcliff, you absolute shit.

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