Mysterious donor gives £100,000 to buy Jane Austen ring back from Kelly Clarkson

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An anonymous donor has given £100,000 (about $160,000 Cdn) to Jane Austen's House Museum to help buy a gold and turquoise ring of the author's back from American singer Kelly Clarkson.

Former American Idol winner Clarkson is a huge Jane Austen fan and purchased the ring for £152,450 ($242,907 Cdn) last year at Sotheby's auction house. Clarkson also owns a first edition of Persuasion, Austen's final finished novel.

Austen historians regard the ring as a rare item, as it's only one of only three pieces of the Pride and Prejudice writer's jewelry known to exist, the Guardian newspaper reports. In fact, the British government has gotten involved, issuing a temporary export ban to try to keep it in the U.K.

It was hoped that during the temporary ban, the museum could raise enough money to match Clarkson's successful bid.

The mysterious donation now means the museum has until December 30 to raise the remaining money -- £49,250 ($78,472 Cdn), after accounting for funds already raised -- to buy the piece.

Museum fundraiser Louise West said the situation is a shame for Clarkson, saying that it's exciting for a young, U.S. pop singer to be such an Austen fan, "but the ring should stay in this country because there is so little of Austen's personal effects left."


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