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The letters of Charles Dickens, of which more than 14,000 are known, range in date from about 1821, when Dickens was 9 years old, to 8 June 1870, the day before he died. They have been described as ''invariably idiosyncratic, exuberant, vivid, and amusing…widely recognized as a significant body of work in themselves, part of the Dickens canon''. They were written to family, friends, and the contributors to his literary periodicals, who included many of the leading writers of the day. Their letters to him were almost all burned by Dickens because of his horror at the thought of his private correspondence being laid open to public scrutiny.