The 2010 BSI Essay Contest

Holmes & Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Baker Street Irregulars announce a literary contest to celebrate the 2011 centenary of Monsignor Ronald Knox’s seminal essay “Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes.” Knox’s exceedingly clever parody of biblical higher criticism, more than any other single work, gave rise to Sherlockian scholarship and the “Playing the Game” that so characterizes our interest.

Irregular founding father Christopher Morley, who was a Rhodes Scholar from 1910 to 1913, recalled hearing Knox read his paper: “This new frolic in criticism was welcome at once; those who were students at Oxford in that ancient day remember how Mr. Knox was invited round from college to college to reread his agreeable lampoon. . . .”

In commemoration of that ground-breaking talk, the BSI have declared an international competition, open to all Sherlockians who are not Irregulars.

Competitors are asked to submit papers (written in English and 1,200 to 1,800 words) that demonstrate originality in approaching unanswered canonical questions or in resolving those issues that have been unsatisfactorily addressed heretofore.

A panel of judges will select the paper best reflecting the continuing appeal of Knox’s work: scholarship, style, and Playing the Game.

The author of the winning paper will deliver it at the January 2011 Annual Dinner of The Baker Street Irregulars, at which she or he will be an honored guest. The paper will also be published in the Spring 2011 issue of The Baker Street Journal. In addition, the BSJ may choose to publish some of the best submissions.

Who shall have it?
Any Sherlockian who does not hold an investiture from the Baker Street Irregulars may submit an essay.

What was the month?
All essays must be received by 1 October 2010.

How was it stepped?
Send papers to Paul Herbert, BSI, preferably by e-mail: BSIcontest AT

Or send by post to 734 Alpine Dr., Milford, OH 45150-1401.

Receipt will be acknowledged by e-mail.

Papers must be previously unpublished and undelivered—no recycling of past work, please. No pseudonymous papers will be accepted.

Authors’ identities will be unknown to the judges.

The Baker Street Irregulars, announced July 2009.

[Update May 2011: James Zych won the contest for his paper “How Moriarty Survived Reichenbach Falls.” He presented it at the 2011 BSI Dinner, and it appeared in Spring 2011 BSJ (available in the eBSJ). ]