Baker Street Irregulars

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Baker Street Irregulars
Sherlock Holmes character
Created by Arthur Conan Doyle
Nationality British

The Baker Street Irregulars appear in various Sherlock Holmes stories, in which they are street children whom Holmes employs as intelligence agents. The name has subsequently been used to refer to other organizations.


The original Irregulars were a group of fictional characters featured in the Sherlock Holmes stories. They were a group of street urchins, led by an older boy called Wiggins, whom Holmes paid a shilling per day (plus expenses), with a guinea prize (worth one pound and one shilling) for a vital clue, to collect data for his investigations. They first appeared in Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes story, A Study In Scarlet (written 1886, published 1887). They also appear in the next novel, The Sign of the Four, whereof one of the chapters of this book is called The Baker Street Irregulars.

Special Operations Executive[edit]

The Special Operations Executive (SOE), tasked by Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze" during World War II, had their headquarters at 64 Baker Street and were often called "the Baker Street Irregulars"[1] after Sherlock Holmes's fictional group.[2] The group is mentioned briefly in the Doctor Who episode "Hide" as the Eleventh Doctor discusses the involvement of Professor Palmer in the Irregulars.[3]

Modern organizations[edit]

The Baker Street Irregulars (BSI) is also the name of an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934 by Doubleday Editor Christopher Morley. Formal members are known as "investitures" and bear club titles derived from the Holmes stories.

The organization convenes every January in New York City for an annual dinner, which forms part of a weekend of celebration and study involving other Sherlockian groups and enthusiasts. The present leader (referred to in group jargon as the "Wiggins") is Michael Whelan of Indianapolis, Indiana. The leader is elected for life and selects his successor.

The BSI is considered the preeminent Sherlockian group in the United States and one of the most preeminent in the world. There are also "scion societies" approved by the BSI in dozens of local communities. While most of the scion societies welcome new members, the BSI does not accept applications for membership. Instead, membership and the awarding of an "Irregular Shilling" are offered to those who have made a name for themselves in local groups or in Sherlockian publications. The group has published The Baker Street Journal, an "irregular quarterly of Sherlockiana", since 1946. Scion societies of the BSI are located around the world.

Because the BSI refused membership to women until 1991, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, or ASH, was formed in the late 1960s. Its quarterly journal is entitled The Serpentine Muse. Official membership in ASH, like that of the BSI, is by invitation only, and its official members are likewise given investiture names. In recent years, both clubs have welcomed both genders equally. However, ASH is a literary social club at which attendance and participation (whether in the flesh or via other media) is a serious consideration for membership—unlike that of the BSI, which at times inducts distinguished Sherlockian figures without previous person to person interaction. In addition, all ASH events without exception are open to any interested parties, while the BSI Dinner remains invite-only. ASH, as an independent group and a non-scion society, operates entirely outside the umbrella of the BSI, although a great many of its members overlap. Another notable difference is that ASH meets in New York City on the first Wednesday of every month, and the BSI officially meet once a year during the January BSI Weekend.

The BSI does not provide any financial support to its numerous "scion societies"; but does provide contacts and literary resources between fans and scholars via the societies. These societies continue to flourish throughout the U.S. They sponsor various events throughout the year and often feature original works of Sherlockian scholarship.

Some notable BSI members have included:[4]

Influence on other popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Sweet-Escott, Bickham, Baker Street Irregular, London, Methuen, 1965.
  2. ^ Holmes quote from The Sign of the Four
  3. ^ Matthewman, Scott. "Ten Things About Who: Hide". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Alexian Gregory. "Sherlockian.Net: Baker Street Irregulars investitures". Retrieved 2009-10-06
  5. ^ David Mehegan. "Guilt by association: For 65 years, a Boston club has made Sherlock Holmes mysteries a scholarly pastime." The Boston Globe. November 28, 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  6. ^ The Irregulars at Dark Horse Comics
  7. ^ Les Quatre de Baker Street at Bedetheque (French)

External links[edit]