Samuel Dashiell Hammett ( /dəˈʃiːl/; May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).
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... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction". Time magazine included Hammett's 1929 novel Red Harvest on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.
Hammett was born on a farm called Hopewell and Aim off Great Mills Road, St. Mary's County, in southern Maryland. His parents were Richard Thomas Hammett and Anne Bond Dashiell. (The Dashiells are an old Maryland family, the name being an Anglicization of the French De Chiel). He was baptized a Roman Catholic and grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. "Sam," as he was known before he began writing, left school when he was 13 years old and held several jobs before...