Author. Born Samuel Dashiell Hammett, in St. Mary's County, Maryland, the son of Anne Bond Dashiell and Richard Hammett, Senior. His family moved to Philadelphia then Baltimore where he attended school until dropping out by age 14. After working a series of jobs, including freight clerk, railroad yardman, messenger boy, day laborer, and stevedore, he took a position with Pinkerton's National Detective Agency working as an on call operative from 1915 to 1918 when he joined the Army, and trained as an ambulance driver. He was never deployed, however, spending his service hospitalized for tuberculosis. In 1920, he left Maryland for the west coast, and reacquired a position with the Pinkertons, working part time. Within a year, he had left the agency in disgust over their strike breaking tactics. He moved to San Francisco and worked as a book reviewer and advertising copy-writer. He published his first short story, 'The Parthian Shot,' in 1922 in the magazine, 'The Smart Set.' It was followed in 1923 by 'Arson Plus' in 'The Black Mask' for which he became a regular contributor. Initially, he used the pen name Peter Collinson before settling on the profession name of Dashiell Hammett. 'The Black Mask' published 'Crooked Souls,' 'It,' 'The Second-Story Angel,' and 'Bodies Piled Up' in 1923, and 'The Tenth Clew,' which introduced the Continental Op, the following year before a tuberculosis flare up curtailed his output. Longer stories appeared in 1927, as well as a first novella, 'The Big Knockover.' His first novel, 'Red Harvest' appeared in early 1929, quickly followed by 'The Dain Curse' in 1929, and 'The Maltese Falcon' in early 1930, which made his reputation as a writer. 'The Glass Key' was published in 1931, followed by 'The Thin Man' in 1932. It would be his last novel. He then tried his hand at Hollywood script writing with an adaptation of 'The Thin Man.' He eventually was involved in writing another handful of scripts, including 'Woman in the Dark' (1934), 'The Glass Key' (1935), and 'Satan Meets a Lady' (1936), but his heavy drinking and profligate spending earned him a reputation for undependability. In 1936, his drinking led to hospitalization. He attempted to rejoin the Army in 1941 despite his recurring tuberculosis and his age. In 1942, he was accepted and assigned as the editor of a camp newspaper at Adak, Aleutian Islands. In 1946, he was elected President of the Civil Rights Congress activist group. In 1951, he was called to appear before the House of Un-American Activities Committee where he was found guilty of contempt of Congress, and sentenced to six months in prison After his release, he was blacklisted. The few attempts he made to write again were abandoned unfinished. He spent much of the rest of his life in near seclusion supported by Lillian Hellman. After his death at age 66, he was eulogized as the founder of the so called hard-boiled genre in fiction and one of the most influential writers of his time.
Bio by: Iola