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Museum launches appeal to prevent Jane Austen ring leaving Britain after it was bought by Kelly Clarkson
3:57pm Wednesday 14th August 2013 in News
AN ANONYMOUS donor has given £100,000 to an appeal to keep a ring, once owned by Jane Austen, in Britain after it was bought by a US popstar.
Singer Kelly Clarkson acquired the turquoise and gold ring at auction at Sotheby's in London last year, but Culture minister Ed Vaizey put an export ban on it until September 30 to allow someone in Britain ''to show a serious expression of interest to buy the ring''.
This expression has now been lodged by a Hampshire museum based in Austen's home in Chawton, near Alton.
The appeal has already received a £100,000 anonymous donation, but needs £52,450 more to reach the amount paid by Kelly Clarkson.
Fundraiser and former museum curator Louise West said: ''We are very confident we can match this price.''
The museum was unable to raise enough cash at the time of the original sale, but hopes to get enough funds in place by December. It has also invited Ms Clarkson to the museum, where Austen wrote and revised her six completed novels, to see that it would make a good home for it. So far the singer has not replied.
Mrs West said the situation with the star was unfortunate.
''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.
Until it was sold, the ring remained in the Austen family since the world famous author's death in Winchester in 1817 from an unknown illness.
It passed first 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.
Austen is shortly to be on the new £10 banknote following a campaign to have a woman on the currency.
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