Mike Whelan is the "Wiggins" of the Baker Street Irregulars and has been such since 1997. He joined us as a guest on I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere first in December 2007 (Episodes 14
As a reminder, the Baker Street Irregulars, the literary society dedicated to Sherlock Holmes, was founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley, administered ably from 1940-1960 by Edgar W. Smith, followed by Julian Wolff from 1960-1986 and Tom Stix, Jr. from 1986-1997.
In our conversation with Mike, we touch on both Julian and Tom, both of whom Mike knew. We go behind the scenes at the Regency, where Mike's first BSI dinner was, as well as on the succession process that he underwent prior to ascending to the top leadership position in the BSI. As one might expect, a new leader brings new vision, and Mike's included reclaiming the Irregulars' literary roots, extending a hand internationally and honoring the memory of Conan Doyle.
As any good leader, Mike has been tireless in his efforts to communicate with his stakeholders (in this case the members of the Baker Street Irregulars), doing so through two annual letters. We parsed through the major themes in the 2014 mid-year letter: decentralization, BSI conferences, the next phase of the BSI Trust
, and the society's "soul" - that is, its values, which we think are worth calling out here:
- Promote and nurture Grand Game scholarship
- Diverse, exceptional membership, not elitist
- Kind, welcoming clubbability
- Altruistic volunteerism -- giving more than you receive, "society above self"
- Joyful, whimsical environment (see last January's annual dinner)
- Aspirational, not reactionary
- Inherent modesty versus taking ourselves too seriously
- Extremely high standards -- never intentionally settle for less
- Fiscally responsible -- sufficient funds maintained to accomplish most, if not all, objectives
- Societal and member Sherlockian charitable generosity
Burt and Scott go on the public record with an intention for the future (it's up to you, dear listener, to hold us to it!). And Mike gives a preview of what you might expect at the 2015 BSI Weekend
Finally, we discussed the very handsome Undershaw Set
- a limited edition signed by the authors and in a purple slipcase with gold stamping. The proceeds from sales of the sets will go to the Undershaw Preservation Trust
, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the unique home designed and built by Arthur Conan Doyle. [Editor's note: we previously covered this news here
Make sure you tune in to our sponsor reads to hear Scott tell his story about Douglas Wilmer (the subject of the 2014 Baker Street Journal Christmas Annual) that references this famous scene:
The Editor's Gas-Lamp comes from the Vol. 4, No. 1 issue in 1949, but is not a Gas-Lamp per se. Instead, it is a poem by Paul McPharlin: "Sweet Auburn," which puts one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories to verse.
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and The Baker Street Journal
- and as always, a very special sponsor.