Hammett, (Samuel) Dashiell biographical name
(born May 27, 1894, St. Mary's county, Md., U.S.died Jan. 10, 1961, New York, N.Y.) U.S. detective novelist. He left school at age 13. He spent eight years as a private detective before beginning to publish fiction in pulp magazines. His first novels were Red Harvest (1929) and The Dain Curse (1929). The Maltese Falcon (1930; film, 1941), considered his finest work, introduced Sam Spade, the prototype of the hard-boiled detective. It was followed by the story collection The Continental Op (1930) and the novel The Glass Key (1931). The Thin Man (1934), featuring the witty detective couple Nick and Nora Charles, spawned a popular series of movies. Nora was based on Lillian Hellman, with whom Hammett had a romantic alliance from 1930 until his death. He later worked as a screenwriter. For refusing to answer questions about his Communist Party affiliations and those of his associates, he served a six-month prison sentence in 1951.
Dashiell Hammett.—Culver Pictures, Inc.
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