The Baker Street Irregulars

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The Baker Street Irregulars meeting on January 30, 1940. Those pictured include Christopher Morley, Frederic Dorr Steele, Robert Keith Leavitt, and David A. Randall, among others.[1]

The Baker Street Irregulars is an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley.[2] As of 2015, the nonprofit organization had about 300 members worldwide.[3]

The group has published The Baker Street Journal, an "irregular quarterly of Sherlockiana", since 1946.[2] Members of the society participate in "the game"[4] which postulates that Holmes and Doctor Watson were real and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was merely Watson's "literary agent".[5]


Baker Street Irregulars Fletcher Pratt, Christopher Morley and Rex Stout (1944)

The BSI was an outgrowth of Christopher Morley's informal group, "the Three Hours for Lunch Club," which discussed art and literature.[6] The inaugural meeting of the BSI was held in 1934 at Christ Cella's restaurant in New York City.[7] Initial attendees included William Gillette, Vincent Starrett, Alexander Woollcott, and Gene Tunney.[6] Morley kept meetings quite irregular, but after leadership passed to Edgar W. Smith, meetings became more regular.[6][8]

In February 1934, Elmer Davis, a friend of Morley, wrote a constitution for the group explaining its purpose and stating that anyone who passed a certain test was eligible to join.[9] This test, a crossword puzzle by Morley's younger brother Frank, was published in the May 1934 issue of Saturday Review of Literature.[9]

Edgar W. Smith led the BSI from 1940 until 1960, initially using the title "Buttons" and later "Buttons-cum-Commissionaire".[10][11] Julian Wolff was the head of the BSI from late 1960 to 1986, and used the title "Commissionaire".[11] From 1986 until 1997, Thomas L. Stix Jr. was the leader of the organization, and used the title "Wiggins".[12][13] The title "Wiggins" has since been used for the leadership position.[13][14]

The organization long resisted admitting women, a policy which spawned a female-centered organization, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes,[8] whose founders had picketed an all-male BSI gathering.[15] The BSI invested its first woman in 1991:[6] Dame Jean Conan Doyle.[16] She was followed by Katherine McMahon, the first woman to solve the crossword puzzle.[16] McMahon was followed by Edith Meiser,[16] who wrote numerous Holmesian radio scripts for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Leadership of the BSI passed to Michael Whelan in 1997[13] and Michael Kean in 2020.[14]


Membership is by invitation only[8] based on criteria unknown to the public.[6] Members take on a name inspired by the canon[17] with the head of the organization known as "Wiggins".[6] As of 2020, the organization has had a total of 701 members, whose names, years of investiture, and pseudonym are listed in the reference volume Sherlock Holmes and the Cryptic Clues.[18]

Notable members[edit]

Among the members of the Baker Street Irregulars, past and present:

The Baker Street Journal[edit]

The group publishes a periodical, The Baker Street Journal. The original series of the BSJ was started in 1946, but it ceased in 1949.[6] In 1951, Edgar Smith began publishing it again as a quarterly; it has continued publication since that time.[6]

Scion societies[edit]

The BSI has spawned numerous "scion societies",[7] many of which are officially recognized by the BSI. The first was The Five Orange Pips of Westchester County, New York, in 1935.[6] Independent Sherlockian groups include the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, the U.K.’s Sherlock Holmes Society of London, and Canada's The Bootmakers of Toronto.


  1. ^ "Entertainment and Fantasy": The 1940 Dinner". BSI Archival History. Retrieved 19 November 2020. See the section "A Picture of the Crowd".
  2. ^ a b "Baker Street Irregulars 1923-2007: Guide". Houghton Library, Harvard Library. Harvard University. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  3. ^ "The Baker Street Irregulars Trust". ZoomInfo. March 2015.
  4. ^ a b Dirda, Michael (February 2, 2012). "Sherlock Lives!". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Grann, David (December 13, 2004). "Mysterious Circumstances". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur; Klinger, Leslie S. (2005). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. lxiii–lxvi. ISBN 0-7394-5304-1.
  7. ^ a b Bunson, Matthew (1997). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana: an A-to-Z guide to the world of the great detective. Macmillan. pp. 20–21. ISBN 0-02-861679-0.
  8. ^ a b c Faye, Lyndsay (March 22, 2012). "Inside the Baker Street Irregulars". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Boström, Mattias (2018). From Holmes to Sherlock. Mysterious Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-8021-2789-1.
  10. ^ Lellenberg, Jon (2015). "Edgar W. Smith: Prolegomena to Any Future Biography, Part 5". BSI Archival History. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Wolff and Still Waters". BSI Archival History. December 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  12. ^ Lellenberg, Jon. "The March of Time". BSI Archival History. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Zeffren, Tamar (July 29, 2016). "The 1997 BSI Dinner". The Baker Street Irregulars Trust. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  14. ^ a b "The 2020 BSI Weekend Report". The Baker Street Irregulars. 29 January 2020. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  15. ^ Dundas, Zach (2015). The Great Detective. Mariner Books. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-544-70521-0.
  16. ^ a b c Boström, Mattias (2018). From Holmes to Sherlock. Mysterious Press. pp. 428–429. ISBN 978-0-8021-2789-1.
  17. ^ a b c d e Kaska, Kathleen (March 29, 2014). "A Society like None Other: The Baker Street Irregulars Celebrates 80 Years". Kings River Life. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  18. ^ "THE INVESTITURED (OR INVESTED) IRREGULARS" (PDF). Sherlocktron. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax "List of Invested BSI, Two-Shilling Award Recipients, and The Woman" (PDF). BSI History Resources. The Baker Street Irregulars Trust. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  20. ^ "Episode 125: Revenge of the Sherlockian Nerd".
  21. ^ Blumenberg, Taylor (January 10, 2016). "Episode 71: Bert Coules". Baker Street Babes. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Zeffren, Tamar (September 26, 2015). "The 1971 BSI Dinner". The BSI Trust. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  23. ^ Claire, Nancy (September 15, 2013). "Sherlockian Girl Goes Wilde: An Interview with Lyndsay Faye". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  24. ^ Zeffren, Tamar (October 31, 2016). "The 2005 BSI Dinner". The BSI Trust. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  25. ^ Zeffren, Tamar (March 12, 2016). "The 1985 BSI Dinner". The BSI Trust. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  26. ^ Boström, Mattias (2018). From Holmes to Sherlock. Mysterious Press. p. 429. ISBN 978-0-8021-2789-1.
  27. ^ "In Memoriam: Dr. David Musto". Yale Daily News. October 13, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  28. ^ Monty, Scott (January 8, 2017). "The 2017 BSI Weekend Ended in Friendship".
  29. ^ a b Mehegan, David (November 28, 2005). "Guilt by association: For 65 years, a Boston club has made Sherlock Holmes mysteries a scholarly pastime". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  30. ^ Zeffren, Tamar (March 12, 2016). "The 1986 BSI Dinner". The BSI Trust. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  31. ^ Shashower, Daniel (July 10, 2015). "Why Sherlock Holmes Endures". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  32. ^ "Frederic D. Steele, An Illustrator, 70". The New York Times. July 7, 1944. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  33. ^ Zeffren, Tamar (May 19, 2016). "The 1993 BSI Dinner". The BSI Trust. Retrieved January 3, 2018.

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