Dashiell Hammett. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore, leaving school at 14 and taking a variety of jobs including messenger boy, clerk, yardman and machine operator. A move to San Francisco saw him enrolling as an operative in the Pinkerton Detective Agency, the experience of which would feed his story writing. After being discharged from duty during the First World War for health reasons, Hammett began writing short stories for publication in literary magazines such as Black Mask. A new life of celebrity in Hollywood and New York led him to meet the playwright Lillian Hellman; they subsequently lived together until Hammett's death. Heavy drink would blight the rest of Hammett's writing career.
Look Inside. In his novels and stories, Dashiell Hammett created some of the most memorable characters—detectives, dames, and assorted miscreants—in twentieth-century fiction. It is nearly impossible to imagine modern American literature without Hammett. Vintage Readers are a perfect introduction to some of the great modern writers, presented in attractive, affordable paperback editions. Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born in in St.