Samuel Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) was born on a farm in Maryland, of all places. He dropped out of school at age 13, embarking a series of odd-jobs before landing at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1915. He maintained his employment with the agency until 1922, with some time off to enlist in the army. He joined he Motor Ambulance Corps. During his time in the army, he contracted the Spanish Flu and later, Tuberculosis. He returned to the Pinkerton Agency, eventually leaving after the agency’s role in strike-breaking in Butte, Montana.
1922 saw his departure from the Pinkerton Agency and the publishing of his first story, in Smart Set magazine. Hammett drew from his experiences with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, lending his fiction an authenticity missing from the work of many contemporaries. Much of his detective fiction was created while he was residing in San Francisco. Sadly, Hammett wrote is final novel in 1934, turning away from the style he helped create.
Much of his later life is filled with sadness and tragedy, but his writings never really faded in popularity. Genre successors never failed in citing Hammett as massively influential in the development of their own voice. Pulp writers, in general never received their just dues in the literary world and this was true of Hammett. Pulp magazines have always been seen as an inferior outlet for writers. Luckily, much of this stigma has changed, or at least, is starting to change. Dashiell Hammett is now listed amongst the greatest mystery writers of all time…a position of which, he is completely deserving.