I wish I'd had a pound for every article or blog post I've read which aims to explain "what Lewis Carroll really meant." By now I'd have amassed enough to stay in a really very nice hotel in Oxford!

Sadly, I'm rarely the slightest bit convinced by the theories - so it was a thrill to me today to hear from Neil Bant with his thoughts on the famous riddle "Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk?" In his piece, here, he says some interesting things about the Mad Tea Party too, but you have to go to the end to get to the bit about the riddle.

As Mr Bant points out, Carroll did offer a comment on the matter. I have never believed he was giving anyone the answer, but I did think he was offering a clue.

So in case you never knew, this is what Carroll said:

"Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter's Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz: 'Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!' This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle, as originally invented, had no answer at all."

The devious old thing.

I'll let you read the piece so you can see what you think of Neil's thoughts. I don't agree with every detail of his reasoning, but it instantly hit me that the answer he suggests to the riddle has the characteristic blend of quirkiness and apparent simplicity that so characterises Carroll.

Everyone has taken over a hundred and fifty years to work it out, but it is actually as simple as can be.

AND Carroll gave a clue.