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  Most expensive Dickens book-world record set by Oliver Twist

[April 3]NEW YORK, US--An inscribed first-edition copy of Oliver Twist fetched £115, 670 last night - a world record for a Charles Dickens book.

   The book, published in 1838 and inscribed by the author to William Ainsworth, a friend and fellow novelist, was bought by an anonymous U.S. collector.

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  The previous auction record for a Dickens novel was held by ``A Christmas Carol,'' which sold for $160,000 in 1996 at Sotheby's in New York.

  In June, Christie's will auction the desk and chair Dickens used when he wrote ``Great Expectations'' and other works. The mid-19th century mahogany furniture, at which the author worked the day before he died of a stroke at Gad's Hill, Kent, in 1870, will be included in a London sale. It's expected to fetch up to 80,000 pounds ($159,000).

   The furniture passed down the family to his great-great-grandson, Christopher Charles Dickens, who died in 1999.
His widow, Jeanne-Marie Dickens, Countess Wenckheim, decided to donate it to raise funds for equipment and research at the children's hospital in London. Dickens became a supporter and patron of the hospital soon after it was founded. He observed that thousands of sick children were ending up in “little graves two or three feet long, which are so plentiful in our churchyards and our cemeteries”. Dickens, who died in 1870 aged 58, was a friend of the hospital’s founder, Charles West. The hospital needs to raise £50 million a year.

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