Dashiell Hammett was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland, on May 27th,
1894. He became a detective in 1915 when he joined the Baltimore branch
of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, housed in the Continental Building.
Hammett learned the detective trade from James Wright, a short, squat,
tough-talking operative, whom Hammett came to idolize. Hammett left the
Pinkertons in 1918 to enlist in the Army, but tuberculosis contracted while
in service prompted his medical discharge less than a year later.
Hammett wrote... for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street. Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse ... He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes.
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Last modified: July 21, 2010