Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dashiell Hammett

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born in Maryland and grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Despite being later known for his literary fetes, he left school at the young age of thirteen. During his early years his chief form of income was working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, a job he would always fall back into from time to time. He served in WWI till illness had him invalided out. While recovering he met his future wife who was a nurse. Though his chronic illness of TB often kept the couple apart, though some would say it wasn't just the TB, he would always support his wife and daughters financially no matter where or with whom his affairs would take him.

After working for the Pinkertons, he took up a job in advertising, though he was far more likely to pick up a bottle. When Hammett started writing he used his experiences working for the Pinkertons as inspiration. The Pinkertons role in union strike-breaking disillusioned Hammett and he would soon become outspoken in politics. Although he wasn't as fervent in his Communist beliefs after WWII, he was still blacklisted by McCarthy and even served some time in jail. Life had worn him down, as did his alcoholism, TB, and time behind bars. During his decline he was too ill even to write. But he would leave behind a legacy as "the dean of the... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction." His characters of Nick and Nora Charles, and Sam Spade would be some of the most memorable characters in fiction ever to be written. While most would call him the king of noir amongst his other titles, there is no ambiguity that he was one of the Golden Age of Mystery's greatest writers. 


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