Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961

Alternative names

Hide Profile

American novelist and short story writer.

From the description of Dashiell Hammett Papers, 1923-1974. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 85058436

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland on May 27, 1894 to a family long in the county. After working as a youth to help support his family, he left home in 1914 and worked as a detective before enlisting in the U.S. Army during World War I. His contraction of influenza in 1918 led to tuberculosis, for which Hammett was treated in military hospitals on the west coast.

In one of these hospitals he met and married a nurse, Josephine (Jose) Dolan. Following his discharge in 1921 they moved to San Francisco, where he found work as an advertising copy writer. Soon he began writing fiction for publication, quickly gaining a following for his gritty detective writing in Black Mask magazine. Due to a relapse of tuberculosis, Hammett began living apart from his wife and two children, but continued with his increasingly well-received writing career.

In 1930 Knopf published Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, and his fame as an American author was made. He met Lillian Hellman in 1931, and though both were married at the time, they began a relationship that lasted until Hammett's death. His The Thin Man (1934) is in some sense a roman à clef based on their life together. Following the publication of The Thin Man Hammett's literary production essentially ceased, for reasons still debated.

In the years between 1935 and 1941 Hammett's life was marked by creative false starts, leftist activism, and increasingly severe alcohol abuse. After Pearl Harbor, however, he enlisted in the army and served for most of the war years in Alaska, a time that is generally regarded as one of personal contentment for Hammett, even though his literary work was limited to editing a serviceman's newspaper in the Aleutians.

Upon his discharge from military service in 1945 Hammett returned to New York, where his attempts at resuming a writing career were hampered by political persecution, poor health, and his drinking problem. Following a prison term in 1951 for refusing to answer questions posed by the congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities he lived a retired life, supported by Lillian Hellman and other friends. Dashiell Hammett died at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital on January 10, 1961.

From the guide to the Dashiell Hammett Papers TXRC 06-A0., 1923-1974, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center)

Dashiell Hammett, 1894–1961, was born in St. Mary's County, MD and raised in Philadelphia and Baltimore. After enlisting in the Army Ambulance Corps during the First World War (where he contracted tuberculosis) and getting various stints of employment across the country for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Hammett began writing short stories for publications such as The Smart Set and The Black Mask, the latter of which, in particular, shaped his reputation as a writer of hard-boiled crime fiction.

Hammett went on to write five novels: Red Harvest (1929); The Dain Curse (1929); The Maltese Falcon (1930), featuring iconic private eye Sam Spade; The Glass Key (1931); and The Thin Man (1934), featuring married detectives Nick and Nora Charles. Hammett spent the rest of his career writing screenplays and doctoring scripts for movies, television, and radio. Despite ill health, Hammett enlisted again in the Army during the Second World War, where he edited a military newspaper; and he was deeply involved in left-wing political activism before and after the WWII era. As president of the Civil Rights Congress in New York (labeled a communist front group by the Office of the Attorney General of the United States), Hammett in 1949 posted bail for eleven men accused of communist conspiracy and in 1951 refused to identify the contributors to the bail fund during testimony before a U.S. District Court. After taking the Fifth Amendment, he was found in contempt of court and sentenced to five months imprisonment. Upon release, the IRS charged him with over $100,000 in back taxes. In 1953, Hammett once more refused to cooperate during testimony, this time before the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and was subsequently blacklisted. He lived the remaining years of his life in rural New York State before dying of lung cancer in New York, NY.

From the guide to the Hammett, Dashiell mss., 1949-1952, (Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington))

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Song of the thin man : mimeograph copy of typescript, 1945 Dec. 20. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Biography: Melvyn Douglas, 1972-1980 Indiana University, Bloomington. Center for the Study of History and Memory
referencedIn Jerome, V. J. (Victor Jeremy), 1896-1965. Victor Jeremy Jerome papers, 1923-1967 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Song of the thin man : mimeograph copy of typescript, 1945 Oct. 5. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Florine and Ettie Stettheimer papers, 1898-1974 (inclusive), 1906-1953 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Jamieson, John Alden. John Alden Jamieson papers, 1940-1952. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Thin man goes home : mimeograph copy of typescript, 1944 Apr. 5. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Berman, Louise R., 1908-1977. Papers, 1929-1959. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Martin Poll Papers, 1967-1984 New York University. Archives.
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1939-1940. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Dashiell Hammett Papers TXRC 06-A0., 1923-1974 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Lillian Hellman Papers TXRC05-A10005., 1904-1984 (bulk 1934-1984) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Campi, Louis A. World War II photograph album and scrapbook, 1941-1952 1941-1945. UAA/APU Consortium Library, Consortium Library
referencedIn McGinley, Phyllis, 1905-1978. Lillian Hellman Papers, 1904-1984 (bulk 1934-1984). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Ellroy, James, 1948-. Dashiell Hammett/Amazon.com : typescript / James Ellroy, 1999. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Martin Poll Papers 1967-1984. New York University. Archives.
referencedIn Records of the Lyman R. Bradley Academic Freedom Case, 1947-1961 New York University. Archives.
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. Series IV., Author and Book Designer Files, 1911-1979 (bulk 1920-1960). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. : Series II., Alfred A. Knopf Personal, 1874-1984 (bulk 1953-1984). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Hammett, Dashiell, 1949-1961. Papers, 1949-1952. Indiana University
referencedIn Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974. Typed letters signed (18) and autograph letters signed (12) : Chicago, to Edward Wagenknecht, 1943-1970. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Claude C. Hall Papers, circa 1918-1979 Western Washington University Heritage Resources
creatorOf Ruscha, Edward. O : The Maltese falcon / Edward Ruscha. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Stettheimer, Florine, 1871-1944. Florine and Ettie Stettheimer papers, 1898-1974 (inclusive), 1906-1953 (bulk). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Campbell, Alan, 1905-1963. Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker collection, [1930]-1949. University of Michigan
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. The thin man goes home : mimeograph copy of typescript, 1942 May 25. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. Series V., Editor Files, 1873-1984 (bulk 1960-1980). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn McGinley, Phyllis, 1905-1978. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1979. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Marshall, George, 1904-2000. George Marshall papers, 1933-1955. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Hall, Claude C., 1896-1977. Claude C. Hall Papers 1918-1979. Western Washington University
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Telegram : New York, to Maurice Rovner, 1940 Oct. 22. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Frederic Dannay Papers, ca.1920-1982. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Huston, John, 1906-1987. The Maltese falcon : screenplay / by John Huston ; producer Henry Blanke. De Anza College
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1940-1961. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Dashiell Hammett Papers, 1923-1974. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Anderson, Dorothy. Women authors collection, Am-Au, 1835-1975. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Civil Rights Congress (U.S.). Civil Rights Congress records, 1946-1955. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1939. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell mss., 1949-1952 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Donald and Katharine Foley Collection of Penguin Books, 1935-1965 Bancroft Library
referencedIn San Francisco Academy of Comic Art collection : Newspaper Comic Strips, 1893-1996 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. : Series I., General Correspondence, 1922-1977 (bulk 1946-1966). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Hellman, Lillian, 1905-1984. Dashiell Hammett : introduction for collection of short novels and stories : typescript, 1965. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf League of American Writers. Correspondence : with Theodore Dreiser, 1935-1942. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. Series III., Blanche W. Knopf, 1918-1966 (bulk 1940-1966). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Pulp Science Fiction and Detective Fiction Periodical Collection, 1940-1983 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Robert Colodny Papers, Bulk, 1960-1995, 1937-2002, (Bulk 1960-1995) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf Bertolucci, Bernardo. Red harvest : a screenplay : filmscript, 1982 / by Bernardo Bertolucci and Marilyn Goldin. Indiana University
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. "Studio one" presents Two sharp knives / by Dashiell Hammett. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
referencedIn The, Daily Worker, and, The Daily World, Photographs Collection, Bulk, 1930-1990, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Colodny, Robert Garland. Papers, 1937-2002 (bulk 1960-1995). Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961. Song of the thin man : mimeograph copy of typescript, 15 Nov. 1946. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Sherman, Jean. Letters received concerning Spanish Civil War writers auction, 1936-1949 (bulk 1938-1939). Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Dannay, Frederic, 1905-1982. Papers, ca.1920-1982. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Stallings, Laurence, 1894-1968. Here's to crime [collection] : [in three acts] : adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel "The Maltese falcon" / by Laurence Stallings. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. William A. Koshland Files None., 1921-1996 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. person
associatedWith Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Berman, Louise R., 1908-1977. person
associatedWith Bertolucci, Bernardo. person
associatedWith Burden, Carter, person
associatedWith Campbell, Alan, 1905-1963. person
associatedWith Campi, Louis A. person
associatedWith Civil Rights Congress (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Colodny, Robert Garland. person
associatedWith Colodny, Robert Garland. person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Dannay, Frederic, 1905-1982. person
associatedWith Ellroy, James, 1948- person
associatedWith Foley, Donald L. person
associatedWith Foley, Katharine person
associatedWith Hall, Claude C., 1896-1977. person
correspondedWith Hammett, Dashiell, 1949-1961 person
associatedWith Hellman, Lillian, 1905-1984 person
associatedWith Hellman, Lillian, 1906- person
associatedWith Huston, John, 1906-1987. person
associatedWith Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memory corporateBody
associatedWith Jamieson, John Alden. person
associatedWith Jerome, V. J. (Victor Jeremy), 1896-1965. person
associatedWith Kober, Margaret Frohnknecht, 1913-1951 person
associatedWith League of American Writers. corporateBody
associatedWith Marshall, George, 1904-2000. person
associatedWith Martin Poll Productions. corporateBody
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith McGinley, Phyllis, 1905-1978 person
associatedWith Office of the Secretary corporateBody
associatedWith Poll, Martin person
associatedWith Rovner, Maurice, person
associatedWith Ruscha, Edward. person
associatedWith San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. Bill Blackbeard, Director corporateBody
associatedWith Sherman, Jean. person
associatedWith Stallings, Laurence, 1894-1968. person
associatedWith Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974. person
associatedWith Stettheimer, Florine, 1871-1944. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Novelists, American--20th century--Biography
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1894-05-27

Death 1961-01-10

Americans

English

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w63t9qws

Ark ID: w63t9qws

SNAC ID: 6904128