Last August we told you about the long (and sometimes complicated) story of Kelly Clarkson, a ring, the Jane Austen House Museum, and the export laws of Great Britain.
Back in July, Kelly had purchased a turquoise ring that had belonged to Jane Austen, and when she applied for the standard export license application, a committee in the UK decided that the ring should not leave the country. The committee gave the Jane Austen Museum until December 30th of this year to come up with the funds to buy back the ring from Clarkson. If the museum could not, the UK would release the ring to Clarkson.
The museum went into a massive fundraising campaign and donations started to pour in from all over the world. Book clubs and Jane Austen Societies rallied to raise funds to send to the museum. One of the more vocal fundraisers was the Jane Austen Society of Australia. President Susannah Fullerton explained her group’s urgency, “We felt it was so important to save the ring for the Jane Austen museum because if Kelly Clarkson had it, she was planning to wear it, and the stone could have come out and been lost — it’s a fragile ring. Whereas, if the ring went to the museum thousands of people around the world can enjoy it and it would be kept safe. It needed to be kept for posterity, not on a rock star’s finger.”
On September 23rd the museum announced they had raised enough money to purchase the ring back.
The curator of the museum, Mary Guyatt, says, “We have been stunned by the generosity and light-footedness of all those who have supported our campaign to meet the costs of acquiring Jane Austen’s ring for our permanent collection. Visitors come from all around the world to see the house where she once lived, and we will now take great pleasure in displaying this pretty ring for their appreciation.”
Kelly has been pretty gracious in her response to the news. In a statement she shared, “The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it.”
I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly has made an anonymous donation towards the museum. She is a huge Jane Austen fan and I imagine it has been pretty painful to be associated with this sort of wrath and ire from other Austen fans. If the museum hadn’t raised the money by the deadline I absolutely expected Kelly to have given the ring to the museum anyways. This story has actually given the Jane Austen House Museum a lot of press and attention, and hopefully they will continue to be able to fundraise.
This year is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. If you are looking for a unique way to celebrate, you should check out the new book Dinner with Mr. Darcy, a cookbook compiling recipes from Jane Austen’s novels. The book will be available in October.
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