Jane Austen's Ring Saved For The Nation
A ring once owned by the celebrated author Jane Austen and sold to US singer Kelly Clarkson will now stay in the UK thanks to a successful fundraising campaign.
The gold and turquoise ring was sold at auction last year, but the American Idol star was stopped from taking the item of jewellery out of the UK when it became subject to a temporary export ban.
Now Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, has raised the £157,740 needed to buy the ring, after being inundated with donations from loyal fans from around the world.
They included a single pledge of £100,000 from an anonymous donor.
It is not known whether Austen bought or was given the ring - which contains the December turquoise birthstone - Austen's birth month. It is hoped it will go on display next February in time for Valentine's Day.
Clarkson said she was glad the museum had acquired the item.
"The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen's House Museum," she said.
Mary Guyatt, curator of the museum, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride And Prejudice this year, said: "The museum has 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.
"The Government's decision to decline an export licence reflects how rarely Austen's personal effects turn up in today's art market, and having missed out at auction in 2012 we are thrilled to have had this second chance to bring it home to Chawton."
The author spent the last eight years of her life in Chawton and wrote her six completed novels there.
Arts Council England chief executive Alan Davey said: "This ring is a truly important piece of history in understanding one of literature's greatest authors.
"It is fantastic that Jane Austen's House Museum has managed to raise the funds to keep this on display for people to enjoy and admire.
"Those who have donated should be thanked for their enormous generosity."