Dashiell Hammett - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Dashiell Hammett

Selected works by this author

Selected books about / related to this author

Recommended links
Picture of Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon; twentieth century American detective fiction and mystery novels
Dashiell Hammett
(1894 - 1961)

Category:  American Literature
Born:  May 27, 1894
St. Mary's County, Maryland, United States
Died:  January 10, 1961
New York City, New York, United States
Related authors:
Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson, John Buchan, Lillian Hellman, P. D. James, Raymond Chandler, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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Dashiell Hammett - LIFE STORIES
1/10/1961     Dashiell Hammett as Sam Spade
Before Hammett, American detective fiction was in the Sherlock Holmes tradition: gentleman-sleuths, criminals gone barely or rarely bad, logical tales told in elegant sentences. Hammett didn't so much break this mold as snub it. His heroes are blue-collar, hard-working, wise-guys in a world gone slick and mean; like Hammett, they lived hard and talked little.
7/9/1951     Dashiell Hammett on Not Talking
On this day in 1951, Dashiell Hammett was sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of court, having refused to give testimony before a judge representing the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Hammett had little to conceal, but he was determined to offer nothing that might advance the Committee's mission of tracking "the footsteps of Karl Marx" through Hollywood.
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The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon
by Dashiell Hammett, William Dufris (Reader)
audio CD
The Thin Man
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An Unfinished Woman
by Lillian Hellman
Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers
by Josephine Hammett
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Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction
Offers a large selection of resources on the Black Mask school and early and classic writers of the genre, including Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald (Kenneth Millar). Also offers analysis of Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key and other works, and commentary on characteristics of the genre, including heroes and heroines, the detective code, villains, the femme fatale, imagery, and theme.

"Hammett lived well, as money poured through his hands. He and Hellman shuttled from L.A. to New York, where he finally settled in at a hotel managed by Nathanael West to work on The Thin Man. Hammett and Hellman drank with West and the visiting William Faulkner late into the night, arguing about books and art. When Hammett got serious about his book, said Hellman, 'life changed. The drinking stopped, the parties were over. The locking in time had come and nothing was allowed to disturb it until the book was finished. I had never seen anybody work that way; the care for every word, the pride in the neatness of the typed page itself, the refusal for ten days or two weeks to go out even for a walk for fear something would be lost.'"
PBS - American Masters
Find a biography which discusses the author's early career as a writer for Black Mask, his relationship with Lillian Hellman, and works. Also features a bibliography, video clip of Sam Spade's parable of Flitcraft, and links.

"Sam Spade was a rough and solitary man who worked outside of the law. This independent detective made his first appearance in what was to become Hammett's most famous book, The Maltese Falcon (1930). ... Though his output was limited to only five novels, Hammett remains one of the most influential writers of his time. His introduction of the "hard-boiled" genre has had a profound effect on both television and the movies, and his uncompromisingly vernacular prose has influenced generations of writers as diverse as Raymond Chandler and William Burroughs."
The Continental Detective Agency
A biography explores the importance of Hammett's early job at the Pinkertons Detective Agency, his pursuit to become a writer, success with The Glass Key and The Thin Man, and dabblings in journalism.

"The Pinkerton job was probably the most important influence on Hammett's life and it is not an overstatement to suggest that these were the years that made him; as he progressed from clerk to operative he acquired the material he would use for his best work; his eyes were opened to some of the injustices of the world - experiences which would later inform his political beliefs; and he devised an informal but rigid code that would underlie his actions until his death. His health too deteriorated to such a degree that he developed a profound sense of his own mortality - the net result: a superhuman thirst for life."
The New York Review of Books
Lilian Hellman's reflections about Hammett, his politics and works, and their tumultuous 30-year relationship.

"... it was of extra interest to those who collect people that the ex-detective who had bad cuts on his legs and an indentation in his head from being scrappy with criminals, was gentle in manner, well educated, elegant to look at, born of early settlers, was eccentric, witty, and spent so much money on women that they would have liked him even if he had been none of the good things."
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February 19, 2018
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