Dashiell Hammett


Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, screenplay writer, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, and the Continental Op. In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on film, Hammett "is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time" and was called, in his obituary in The New York Times, "the dean of the...… Read More

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1894 Birth Born on May 27, 1894.


1915 21 Years Old He served as an operative for Pinkerton from 1915 to February 1922, with time off to serve in World War I. … Read More
1918 24 Years Old Hammett enlisted in the Army in 1918 and served in the Motor Ambulance Corps. … Read More
1922 28 Years Old Hammett was first published in 1922 in the magazine The Smart Set. … Read More


1929 35 Years Old In 1929 and 1930, he was romantically involved with Nell Martin, a writer of short stories and several novels. … Read More
1931 37 Years Old In 1931, Hammett embarked on a 30-year affair with the playwright Lillian Hellman.


1934 40 Years Old Though he sporadically continued to work on material, he wrote his final novel in 1934, more than twenty-five years before his death. … Read More
1937 43 Years Old Hammett devoted much of his life to left-wing activism. He was a strong anti-fascist throughout the 1930s and in 1937 joined the Communist Party.
1940 46 Years Old He suspended his anti-fascist activities when, as a member (and in 1941 president) of the League of American Writers, he served on its Keep America Out of War Committee in January 1940 during the period of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
1942 48 Years Old In early 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hammett again enlisted in the United States Army. … Read More
1943 49 Years Old In 1943, still a member of the military, he co-authored The Battle of the Aleutians with Cpl. … Read More


1946 52 Years Old After the war, Hammett returned to political activism, "but he played that role with less fervor than before." He was elected President of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) on June 5, 1946, at a meeting held at the Hotel Diplomat in New York City, and "devoted the largest portion of his working time to CRC activities". … Read More
1947 53 Years Old On April 3, 1947, the CRC was identified as a Communist front group on the Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations, as directed by U.S. President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9835. … Read More
1951 57 Years Old Hammett testified on July 9, 1951, in front of United States District Court Judge Sylvester Ryan, facing questioning by Irving Saypol, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described by Time as "the nation's number one legal hunter of top Communists". … Read More
1953 59 Years Old He testified on March 26, 1953, before the House Un-American Activities Committee about his own activities but refused to cooperate with the committee. … Read More


1961 67 Years Old Hammett died in Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, on January 10, 1961, of lung cancer, diagnosed just two months before. … Read More
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