But was Carroll a pedophile? As you walk through ''Reflections in a Looking Glass: A Lewis Carroll Centenary Exhibition,'' organized by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin to mark his death in 1898 and now at the Equitable Gallery in Manhattan, the question seems oddly irrelevant. What is most startling, and attractive, in his portraits of girls is not what he saw in them but what they saw in him.
''Lewis Carroll . . . came to our country home to photograph the children,'' wrote Dymphna Ellis, one of the children Carroll photographed. She added: ''I feel sure I was a 'favorite.' He made every child that. He developed the photographs in our cellar . . . I remember the mess and the mystery . . . We cried when he went away . . . We were absolutely fearless with him. We felt he was one of us, and on our side against all the grown-ups.''