Perhaps the most memorable BSI dinner -- at least in the annals of legend -- was the 1941 dinner at which Rex Stout, one of the greatest American mystery writers of the Golden Age, delivered his scandalous talk "Watson Was a Woman."
Stout’s relationship with the BSI was a long and happy one. When Christopher Morley founded the Baker Street Irregulars in 1934, he asked Stout to be one of the first members. That same year also saw the publication of Fer-de-Lance, the first of Stout’s more than 60 Nero Wolfe stories.
In 1949, despite the "Watson Was a Woman" blasphemy, he was presented with his Irregular Shilling and the investiture name of "The Boscombe Valley Mystery." Stout won the BSI's first-ever Two-Shilling Award in 1961. For the first five years of the BSI’s Silver Blaze Stakes at Belmont Race Track, Stout and his wife Pola attended, and presented the trophy in two of those years. In 1966, the annual BSI dinner again honored Stout and also toasted Pola as "The Woman."
Although best known as a mystery writer, the tart-tongued Stout was also a perceptive critic who was never shy about sharing his thoughts on his craft – or any other subject, for that matter. In January 1942, appearing with Jacques Barzun and Elmer Davis on Mark Van Doran’s CBS radio show "Invitation to Learning," he made this brilliant observation:
"The modern detective story puts off its best tricks till the last, but Doyle always put his best tricks first and that’s why they’re still the best ones.” Later in the same program, he said, “It is impossible for any Sherlock Holmes story not to have at least one marvelous scene."