Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett (dəshēl´), 1894–1961, American writer, b. St. Mary's co., Maryland. After a variety of jobs, including several years working as a detective for the Pinkerton agency, beginning in the early 1920s he found success as a writer, largely originating the "hard-boiled" school of detective fiction. His stories, about 90 in all, are realistic, fast-paced, and marked by a certain sophistication and a merciless detachment. He was the creator of Nick Charles and Sam Spade, the latter being the original tough "private eye." Hammett's novels The Maltese Falcon (1930), The Glass Key (1931), and The Thin Man (1932), are considered classics of the genre; all were made into successful movies. Lillian Hellman, his companion of many years, wrote of their relationship in Pentimento (1973) and other autobiographical works.

See posthumous collections of his stories, The Big Knockover, ed. by L. Hellman (1966), The Continental Op, ed. by S. Marcus (1974), and Crime Stories and Other Writings, ed. by S. Marcus (2001); his Complete Novels (1999); R. Layman, ed., Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett, 1921–1990 (2001); biographies by R. Layman (1984) and D. Johnson (1987); J. Mellen, Hellman and Hammett (1996); studies by W. Marling (1983) and J. Symons (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

A Dashiell Hammett Companion
Robert L. Gale.
Greenwood Press, 2000
The Critical Response to Dashiell Hammett
Christopher Metress.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Dark Cinema: American Film Noir in Cultural Perspective
Jon Tuska.
Greenwood Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: "Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction: Dashiell Hammett" begins on p. 46
Class, Labor, and the Home-Front Detective: Hammett, Chandler, Woolrich, and the Dissident Lawman (and Woman) in 1940s Hollywood and Beyond
Broe, Dennis.
Social Justice, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 2005
Which Way Did He Go? The Private Eye in Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, and Ross MacDonald
Edward Margolies.
Holmes & Meier, 1982
The Crime of the Sign: Dashiell Hammett's Detective Fiction
Malmgren, Carl D.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 45, No. 3, Fall 1999
City Jungles and Expressionist Reifications from Brecht to Hammett
Lindh, John Walker.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 44, No. 1, Spring 1998
An Introduction to the Detective Story
Leroy Lad Panek.
Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Hard-Boiled Story"
The Politics of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest
Zumoff, J. A.
Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 40, No. 4, December 2007
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