I've just finished a short extra chapter we decided was needed. It's a summing up. Well, the more you know about a person, the harder it gets to sum them up. But I ended up thinking that on the whole I had liked Carroll and would have wanted to know him.

One of the questions I'm most often asked about him, is whether I think he was a paedophile, or at least a closet paedophile. I do not think he was, even though some aspects of his life seem pretty strange to a modern person.

But he wasn't a modern person. He lived in a very, very different time from our own. In his own society, his love of little girls was seen by everyone (and by him) as a love of God's handiwork in a perfect and sinless form. The little girls also offered him support and the kind of childish love that he needed to feel okay.

If he had been raised in 21st century London or New York, every aspect of his life, not just this aspect of it, would have been different. For a start, he probably wouldn't have had the ten highly religious brothers and sisters who had such a profound influence on his life. He would not have lived in a society where women were confined by their husbands and brothers and not allowed to mix with men. He would have had the chance to read up about psychology - he was very interested in medical aspects of mind but lived too early for Freud. The institution of marriage would have been different. Attitudes towards nude photography would have been different. EVERYTHING would have been different.

Stuck in the 19th century, Carroll had things to deal with which modern people would consider extraordinarily cruel, for Victorian life could be just as emotionally stressful and damaging as modern life, but in a completely different way.

His contacts with children - some boys, but mostly girls - helped Lewis Carroll cope with some of the stressful aspects of his own life. They made him feel close to God and provided an escape back into his own happy childhood where he was the beloved entertainer of his three brothers and seven sisters. He thought they SEPARATED him from sin, and he was grateful for and felt privileged to have their company.

The girls who knew him as a friend spoke of how kind and protective he was, what fun to be with, and how much he treated them as people and respected them. The latter two things were rare indeed in the days when children were meant to be only "seen but not heard" and even grown up women were considered incompetent non-persons not fit to handle their own money.

To treat even a small child as if their feelings or opinions mattered was very unusual. To consider that a girl's thoughts were intelligent and worth hearing, was a unique experience to many. They remembered it with gratitude all their lives.