Kelly Clarkson At the Heart Of An International Incident

Pop star Kelly Clarkson's purchase of a ring that once belonged to Jane Austen is once again in the media spotlight, as an anonymous individual has donated £100,000 (over $150,000) to the Jane Austen House Museum in an effort to keep the ring in Great Britain. Clarkson bought the ring at auction for £152,450 (almost $250,000) earlier this year, provoking an export ban from the UK’s culture minister, Ed Vaizey. The ban prohibited the ring from leaving the UK before September 1, in the hope that a British buyer could be found before that time. Given the Museum’s recent donation, which points toward a serious attempt to buy back the ring, the ban may be extended through the end of the year. The Jane Austin House Museum has already invited Clarkson to visit their grounds, should the purchase go through — the equivalent of saying, “Sorry, I’m not sorry.”


Image courtesy The History Blog.

This allegedly normal ring that happened to belong to Jane Austen once upon a time is creating quite a stir, and here at PolicyMic, we’re willing to ask the hard questions. Here's what we would like Clarkson and the Jane Austen House Museum to come clean about:

— When turned three times, does the ring produce a fully formed Fitzwilliam Darcy, who's waiting to whisk you away to Pemberley?

— Does this ring rule them all? Find them? Bring them all, and in the darkness bind them?

— Does this ring contain a piece of Jane Austen’s soul, thereby making her immortal, but never completely whole? Is Jane Austen’s snake horcrux — I mean, regular, old, garden-variety pet snake also up for auction?

— Was this ring made by Uncle Andrew with magical dust from Atlantis, and does it allow the wearer to travel to the Wood between the Worlds?

— Is “Jane Austin’s Ring” English for “Der Ring des Nibelungen”? Was this ring created by the Guardians of the Universe? Does it give the wearer incomprehensible powers, perhaps with regard to prose?

— Does this ring reveal the truth that is universally acknowledged: that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife?

— Is this ring "precious" to you?

— Does this ring contain the Resurrection Stone, allowing the wearer to bring back Jane Austin in shade form? Where are the other two hallows? Was Jane Austen the master of death?

— If the ring is exposed to fire, does this writing appear around the band?


— If the answer to all of the above questions is “no,” would you mind explaining what, exactly, the big deal is? Yes, it’s a ring that belonged to Jane Austen. And yes, Austen’s personal affects are few and far between. But shouldn't the work that Austen left us be considered much more valuable than a mere ring?

Given Austen's timeless legacy, it seems a bit silly that Clarkson and the museum are having a very expensive squabble over a trinket that can’t make you think or feel, or allow you to escape, or reveal any deeper truth, or even make you invisible, which is pretty much the bare minimum for special rings. 

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Caitlin Reilly

Cait is an independent contractor with NPR. She recently graduated with a degree in history and literature from Harvard. In her free time she enjoys taking rec league soccer too seriously, watching embarrassing television, and correcting other people's grammar on facebook.

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