The scholarly rebellion of the early Baker Street Irregulars
This work provides and analyzes an early institutional history of the pioneering Sherlock Holmes American fan club, the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI). Using the publications and records of these devoted Sherlockians, I track the BSI's development from a speakeasy gathering in 1934 to a national organization by the mid-1940s. This growth was built on a foundation of Victorian nostalgia and playful humor. Yet at the same time the members of the Irregulars took their fandom seriously, producing Sherlockian scholarship and creating an infrastructure of journals, conferences, and credentialing that directly mimicked the academy. They positioned themselves in contrast to prevailing scholarly practices of the period, such as New Criticism. I trace both how their fan practices developed over time and how this conflict with the academy led to many of the BSI's defining characteristics.
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