Minor defects mixed with male strength, claim experts, create “instant glamour,” haloing a man with a scintillating, come-hither aura. But at the same time he was “a lovely man, kind, considerate, and understanding”. He ingratiated himself with taste-makers and gate-keepers and schmoozed his way to Hollywood and into an acting career that comprised 100 films. His interpersonal finesse, decency spiked with devilry, and his charm were “as delicious as French pastry”.

The Bad Guy Myth By tradition great seducers are social deviants and love devils, right? Smart is Sexy A man never won a woman with sweet nothings alone. Of course intelligence varies among ladykillers but “distinction of mind” (as poet Ovid observed), is catnip to women. He was a spindly 6ft 4in with bottle-end glasses who resembled a “gigantic grasshopper”.

Instead of the familiar routine approach, they handle love as an art.

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The idea, which goes back to antiquity, is that love requires artistry: imagination, theatre, intuition, passion, customised spells for individual women and a sophisticated skill set of physical and psychological charms.

The 18th-century Venetian Giacomo Casanova was the Michelangelo of love.

The Middle Ages favoured pure knights who served ladies with brave deeds; the Romantic era liked dark, love-wracked heroes while the 1960s preferred groovy minstrels in ponytails. Reflecting the tastes of independent, confident women, today’s erotic icons, such as Ryan Gosling, are less macho, more expressive, more gender-flexible and more appreciative of female strength and ambition.

In all the basics, however, they fit the template: they have that wow factor, love women, and are creative romancers. Giacomo Casanova: Venetian 18th-century adventurer and master lover who set the bar. Gabriele D’Annunzio: Italian poet, politician and adventurer who lived from 1863 to 1938.

Yet when he arrived at Oxford, he was a love-magnet to the most gifted women.

He married one of these – a cultivated Belgian beauty – in 1919 and during their 35 years together he produced a staggering body of work: major novels such as Brave New World, poetry, short stories, screenplays, and 23 volumes of essays. By mutual consent, the marriage was open and Huxley’s lovers were legion, both in England and Hollywood where he spent his last years.“He was ribald and cynical and brilliant,” gushed one of his conquests.

Lord Byron: British 19th-century poet and romantic idol.

“Mad, bad and dangerous to know”, he was also lovable and “quite simply irresistible”.5.

Romantic poet Lord Byron was an electrifying presence.