LONDON (AP) _ An auction of 1,500 books owned by the late actor Richard Burton raised more than $24,000 Friday which will be used to help theater and acting charities.

``It was a difficult decision to part with them but I felt is was a terrible waste to allow them to molder at home,'' said his widow, Sally Burton.

``Frankly, I would much rather Richard's fans had an opportunity to own his personal copies than see them forever stored away in a library cellar,'' she said.

One set of books from the Everyman Collection, given to the actor by his then wife Elizabeth Taylor, raised $2,690 at the Phillips auction.

A first edition of Noel Coward's ``Collected Short Stories'' with the handwritten note ``For Elizabeth and Richard. In memory of a lot of hard work and a great deal of fun ... Rome 1969, Noel'' raised $1,825, more than five times the estimated price.

A first edition copy of George Orwell's ``Nineteen Eighty-Four,'' signed by Burton and dated June 1949, was sold for $1,115.

Many volumes dated from Burton's student days at Exeter College, Oxford. Others were given to him by theatrical colleagues like Sir John Gielgud and Esme Percy. Burton died in 1984.