Jane Austen museum raises funds to buy author's ring off Kelly Clarkson

The US singer paid £152,450 for the gold and turquoise ring

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Kelly Clarkson has inadvertently walked into a battle over Britain's literary heritage, in her attempt to buy a ring owned by romantic novelist Jane Austen.

The "Since You've Been Gone" singer, who also owns a first edition of the author's novel Persuasion, shelled out £152,450 for the gold and turquoise ring once owned by Austen at Sotheby's in London last year.

But the Government put an export ban on it until the end of September to allow someone in Britain to buy it. Clarkson agreed to sell to a UK buyer, for the same price she paid.

Now the museum of Austen's home in Chawton, Hampshire - which was outbid in the last auction - has received a £100,000 anonymous donation to help it do so.

Fundraiser and former museum curator Louise West said: "We are very confident we can match this price."

Mrs West was keen to say that the museum had nothing against Ms Clarkson personally, and has invited her to visit the museum, where Austen wrote and revised her six completed novels, next time she is in the UK. So far the singer has not replied.

West said: "Kelly Clarkson should have been informed that this export ban was likely to happen. This is nothing against her at all - it could be anyone - and it does happen all the time, but we know that it is shame for her.

"But the ring should stay in this country because there is so little of Austen's personal effects left anywhere at all and it would be great to bring it back to the house where she probably wore it and on the bicentennial year of the publishing of Pride And Prejudice."

The museum already displays two other pieces of jewellery owned by the writer - a turquoise bracelet and a topaz cross.

Upon the author's death in Winchester in 1817, the ring passed to her sister Cassandra, who then gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen on her engagement to Jane and Cassandra's brother, the Reverend Henry Thomas Austen.