Welcome to Michael Dirda, PhD, JHWS “Alex,” BSI “Langdale Pike”

The Society wishes to extend its warm welcome to Michael Dirda, PhD., JHWS, BSI “Langdale Pike.”

Mr. Dirda’s impressive biography reads:

I am an invested member–as Langdale Pike–of The Baker Street Irregulars and write or lecture frequently about literary subjects, including the works of John H. Watson. My most recent book,  On Conan Doyle, received the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award–for the best biographical/critical work of the year–from the Mystery Writers of America.

For a quarter century I was a staffer at The Washington Post Book World and for the last decade have been a weekly book columnist for The Washington Post. My earlier books include the memoir An Open Book and  four collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure.  As I live by my pen, I’m a regular contributor  to The New York Review of Books, an occasional reviewer and essayist for the Times Literary Supplement, a columnist for the online Barnes and Noble Review, and a frequent reviewer for several other  literary periodicals, as well as an occasional lecturer and college teacher (most recently at the Bread Loaf School of English and the University of Maryland).  Years ago, I earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature (focusing on medieval studies and European romanticism) from Cornell University and before that graduated with Highest Honors in English from my beloved alma mater, Oberlin College. I grew up in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio and have lived in the Washington DC area since 1975.

My work has been  lucky enough to be short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Book Award (in current affairs for Bound to Please) and for this year’s Marfield Prize for Arts Writing and to have won the Ohioana Book Award for nonfiction (An Open Book), the Boydston Essay Prize (from the Association of Documentary Editing for an article  in the New York Review of Books comparing two editions of The Wind in the Willows),  and the Pulitzer Prize in criticism for my reviews and essays.  Besides the BSI, I’m a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America, the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, The Friends of Arthur Machen, The Ghost Story Society, and the North American Jules Verne Society.

I live in Silver Spring, Maryland with my wife Marian Peck Dirda, a prints and drawings conservator for the National Gallery of Art. We have three sons, now in their twenties: Christopher, Michael and Nathaniel.

My current research focuses on popular fiction between, roughly, 1865 and 1930, and some day I hope to write a book about this “Great Age of Storytelling.”

Please join in welcoming Dr. Dirda to the Society with our collegial greeting to members:

“You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”


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