A ring that belonged to 19th-century novelist Jane Austen and was sold to pop star Kelly Clarkson will stay in the UK, after a museum raised more than £150,000 to buy it.
The American Idol winner bought the gold and turquoise ring for £152,450 at auction last year, outbidding Jane Austen’s House Museum, but was prevented from taking it out of the UK after culture minister Ed Vaizey placed an export bar on it until 30 September.
The minister concluded: “it is so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune.”
Thanks to donations from Austen fans around the world, and an anonymous contribution of £100,000, the museum raised enough money to buy the ring. Clarkson has accepted the offer.
The ring, which is expected to go on display in the New Year, is one of only three pieces of jewellery in existence known to have belonged to Jane Austen (1775-1817).
The ring is accompanied by papers documenting its history within the writer’s family. They reveal it passed firstly to her sister Cassandra, who then gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen.
Eleanor was the second wife of the Reverend Henry Thomas Austen, brother of Jane and Cassandra.
It has remained in the family ever since.
The ring is expected to go on display at Jane Austen’s House Museum, in Chawton, Hampshire, where Austen wrote all of her six completed novels.
She spent the last eight years of her life in the 17th-century house.