Dashiell Hammett

American writer (1894–1961) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Samuel Dashiell Hammett (/ˌdæʃl ˈhæmɪt/;[2] May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American writer of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. He was also a screenwriter and political activist. Among the characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), The Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse) and the comic strip character Secret Agent X-9.

Quick facts: Dashiell Hammett, Born, Died, Occupation, Nat...
Dashiell Hammett
Photo portrait of Hammett from the cover of his final novel, The Thin Man (1934)
Photo portrait of Hammett from the cover of his final novel, The Thin Man (1934)
BornSamuel Dashiell Hammett
(1894-05-27)May 27, 1894
St. Mary's County, Maryland, U.S.
DiedJanuary 10, 1961(1961-01-10) (aged 66)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Occupation
  • Novelist
  • political activist
  • screenwriter
NationalityAmerican
Period1929–1951
GenreCrime and detective fiction
Spouse
Josephine Dolan
(m. 1921; div. 1937)
[1]
PartnerLillian Hellman (1931–1961)
Children2
Close

Hammett is regarded as one of the very best mystery writers.[3] In his obituary in The New York Times, he was described as "the dean of the... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction."[4] Time included Hammett's 1929 novel Red Harvest on its list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.[5] In 1990, the Crime Writers' Association picked three of his five novels for their list of The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time.[6] Five years later, The Maltese Falcon placed second on the The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time as selected by the Mystery Writers of America; Red Harvest, The Glass Key and The Thin Man were also on the list.[7] His novels and stories also had a significant influence on films, including the genres of private eye/detective fiction, mystery thrillers, and film noir.

Raymond Chandler, often considered Hammett's successor, summarized his accomplishments in his essay "The Simple Art of Murder":

"Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare, and tropical fish... He is said to have lacked heart, yet the story he thought most of himself [The Glass Key] is the record of a man's devotion to a friend. He was spare, frugal, hard-boiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before."[8]

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