Baker Street Irregulars

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

The Baker Street Irregulars are fictional characters who appear in various Sherlock Holmes stories, as street children who are employed by Holmes as intelligence agents. The name has subsequently been adopted by other organizations, most notably a prestigious and exclusive literary society founded in the United States by Christopher Morley in 1934.


The original Baker Street Irregulars are fictional characters featured in the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. The group of street urchins is 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.

The group appears in the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study In Scarlet (1887).[1] They also appear in the next novel, The Sign of the Four (1890), in which one of the chapters is titled "The Baker Street Irregulars".[2]

The Baker Street Irregulars ("my Baker Street boys") later appear in "The Adventure of the Crooked Man" (1893).[3]

Literary society[edit]

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

The Baker Street Irregulars is an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley.[4] The nonprofit organization numbers some 300 individuals worldwide.[5]

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 (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 regional groups welcome new members, the BSI itself 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. Regional societies of the BSI are located around the world.

The BSI does not provide 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., sponsoring events and featuring original works of Sherlockian scholarship.

The group has published The Baker Street Journal — an "irregular quarterly of Sherlockiana" — since 1946.[4]

Because the BSI refused membership to women until 1991, a group called the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes was formed in the late 1960s. Its quarterly journal is titled 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.

Notable members[edit]

Notable members of the Baker Street Irregulars include the following:[6]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The Special Operations Executive (SOE), tasked by Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze" during World War II, had its headquarters at 64 Baker Street and were often called "the Baker Street Irregulars"[8] after Sherlock Holmes's fictional group.
  • The group is mentioned briefly in the Doctor Who episode "Hide" as the Eleventh Doctor discusses the involvement of Professor Palmer in the Special Operations Executive.[9]
  • 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. 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),[10] and Les Quatre de Baker Street (ISBN 9782749304373)[11]
  • 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 children 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).
  • The Baker Street Irregulars are mentioned in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Agent Pendergast novel, White Fire. During the plot of the novel, Agent Pendergast teams up with a fictional member of the group to find a "lost" Sherlock Holmes story entitled "The Adventure of Aspern Hall".
  • Variations of the Irregulars can be found in the modern-day remakes Sherlock- set in London- and Elementary (Set in New York). In Sherlock, the 'Irregulars'- although never named as such- are various homeless people scattered around London, who provide Sherlock with information and observe his targets in exchange for money and food; they also assisted him in faking his death during his final confrontation with Moriarty. In Elementary, by contrast, the 'Irregulars' are an assortment of experienced adults in certain fields that Holmes calls on for insight when his own knowledge of a subject proves inadequate to the current case; members include a mathematician, a meteorologist, an expert in Greek myth and literature (Ms. Hudson, who is an 'official' muse for wealthy men when not working with Sherlock) and a man with a particularly keen sense of smell.


  1. ^ Doyle, Arthur Conan (1887). Wikisource link to A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 6: "Tobias Gregson Shows Us What He Can Do". Wikisource. 
  2. ^ Doyle, Arthur Conan (1890). Wikisource link to The Sign of the Four, Chapter 8: "The Baker Street Irregulars". Wikisource. 
  3. ^ Doyle, Arthur Conan (1893). Wikisource link to The Crooked Man. Wikisource. 
  4. ^ a b "Baker Street Irregulars 1923-2007: Guide". Houghton Library, Harvard Library. Harvard University. Retrieved 2015-03-25. 
  5. ^ "The Baker Street Irregulars Trust". ZoomInfo. March 2015. 
  6. ^ Alexian Gregory. "Sherlockian.Net: Baker Street Irregulars investitures". Retrieved 2009-10-06
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ Sweet-Escott, Bickham, Baker Street Irregular, London, Methuen, 1965.
  9. ^ Matthewman, Scott. "Ten Things About Who: Hide". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  10. ^ The Irregulars at Dark Horse Comics
  11. ^ Les Quatre de Baker Street at Bedetheque (French)

External links[edit]