Baker Street Irregulars
|Baker Street Irregulars|
|Sherlock Holmes character|
|Created by||Arthur Conan Doyle|
The Baker Street Irregulars appear in various Sherlock Holmes stories in which they are a gang of young street children whom Holmes often employs to aid his cases. 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 who helped Holmes out from time to time. The head of the group was called Wiggins. Holmes paid them a shilling a day (plus expenses), with a guinea prize (worth one pound and one shilling) for a vital clue. 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; one of the chapters from this book is called The Baker Street Irregulars.
Special Operations Executive
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" after Sherlock Holmes's fictional group of boys employed "to go everywhere, see everything and overhear everyone," as they spied about London. The group is mentioned briefly in the Doctor Who episode "Hide" as the 11th incarnation discusses the involvement of Professor Palmer in the Irregulars.
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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 was once considered the preeminent Sherlockian group in the United States. 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 all 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 support to its numerous "scion societies". Nevertheless, 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:
- Honorary members include Holmes-enthusiast U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
- Mystery writers and critics
- Science fiction and fantasy writers
Influence on other popular culture
- The Irregulars appear as the main characters in Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars: The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas, a 2006 novel by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin. Wiggins is again the leader of a gang of street urchins. Other major characters include Ozzie, a scrivener's apprentice; Rohan, an Indian boy; Elliot, from an Irish tailor's family; Pilar, a Gypsy girl; and little Alfie. The Irregulars help solve the mysterious deaths of three tightrope walkers at a circus.
- Hazel Meade's troop of children serve as couriers and lookouts in the "Baker Street Irregulars" during the lunar revolution of Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966).
- Two BBC television series have been made starring the Irregulars: The Baker Street Boys (1983) and Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars (2007).
- Comics involving the Irregulars include The Irregulars from Dark Horse Comics (ISBN 978-1-59307-303-9), and Les Quatre de Baker Street (ISBN 9782749304373)
- In June 2010 it was announced that Franklin Watts books, a part of Hachette Children's Books planned to release a series of four children's graphic novels in spring 2011 called Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars set during the three years that Sherlock Holmes was believed dead, between The Adventure of the Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House by writer Tony Lee and artist Dan Boultwood.
- The sci-fi series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century features a trio of street kids who aid Holmes as the new Baker Street Irregulars and are even led by a boy named Wiggins (who may or may not be a descendant of the original).
- In the BBC modernization Sherlock, Holmes uses a wide network of homeless people as an information network and William "Bill" Wiggins becomes Sherlock's protégé in the third series.
- Sweet-Escott, Bickham, Baker Street Irregular, London, Methuen, 1965.
- Holmes quote from The Sign of the Four
- Matthewman, Scott. "Ten Things About Who: Hide". Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Alexian Gregory. "Sherlockian.Net: Baker Street Irregulars investitures". Retrieved 2009-10-06
- 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.
- The Irregulars at Dark Horse Comics
- Les Quatre de Baker Street at Bedetheque (French)
- The Baker Street Journal is "an Irregular quarterly" of Sherlockiana, published by the Baker Street Irregulars.
- Collection Guide to Baker Street Irregulars Papers, MS Am 2717, Houghton Library at Harvard University