Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett, 1921-1960

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Counterpoint, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 650 pages
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This is a selection from the letters of Dashiell Hammett, the American writer of crime fiction. Here is Hammett the family man, distant but devoted; Hammett the student of politics, scanning the headlines from a Marxist perspective; and Hammett the lover of Lillian Hellman, delighting in her style, humour, accomplishments, but maintaining his independence. Celebrity, soldier, activist, survivor - these letters show how Hammett was each of these in turn, but was always, above all, a writer.

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Selected letters of Dashiell Hammett 1921-1960

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The more than 1000 lively, personal letters selected here, many hitherto unpublished, are addressed primarily to Hammett's wife; their two daughters; fellow writer Lillian Hellman, with whom he ... Read full review

About the author (2002)

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born on May 27, 1894 in St Mary's County, Maryland. Raised in Baltimore and Philadelphia, Hammett attended Baltimore Polytechnic until he was 13 years old, but he was forced to drop out and work a series of jobs to help support his family. At the age of 21 Hammett was hired by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency as an "operative." After a stint in the United States Army during World War II, Hammett married nurse Josephine Annas Dolan, whom he met when he fell ill with tuberculosis. In 1922, Hammett began writing for Black Mask magazine. Using his vast background in detective work, Hammett created the tough guy detective characters Sam Spade and the Continental Op, as well as debonair sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. By 1927, Hammett had written the "Poisonville" series, which later became the novel "Red Harvest." Recognized as the first master of writing "hard-boiled" detective fiction, Hammett wrote more than 85 short stories and five novels during his lifetime. The novels include The Dain Curse, Red Harvest, The Glass Key, The Thin Man, and The Maltese Falcon, which was later adapted into a classic movie starring Humphrey Bogart. Hammett also wrote his biography Beams Falling: The Art of Dashiell Hammett. After his marriage faltered in the late 1920s, Hammett met Lillian Hellman, then a married 24-year-old aspiring playwright. In 1930, Hellman left her husband for Hammett. Eventually they both divorced their spouses and, although the two never married, they remained together until Hammett's death on January 10, 1961.

Layman is the vice president of Bruccoli Clark Layman, a publisher of reference works in literature.

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