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Hammett, Dashiell mss., 1949-1952

Summary Information

Repository
Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Lilly Library
Indiana University
1200 E. Seventh St.
Bloomington, IN 47405-5500
Phone: 812-855-2452
Fax: 812-855-3143
Email: liblilly@indiana.edu

Creator
Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961

Title
Hammett, Dashiell mss., 1949-1952

Collection No.
LMC 2706

Extent
ca. 60 items

Language
Materials are in English.

Abstract
The Hammett, Dashiell mss., 1949–1952, consists of correspondence between author Dashiell Hammett and his secretary Muriel Alexander.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Dashiell Hammett, 1894–1961, was born in St. Mary's County, MD and raised in Philadelphia and Baltimore. After enlisting in the Army Ambulance Corps during the First World War (where he contracted tuberculosis) and getting various stints of employment across the country for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Hammett began writing short stories for publications such as The Smart Set and The Black Mask, the latter of which, in particular, shaped his reputation as a writer of hard-boiled crime fiction.

Hammett went on to write five novels: Red Harvest (1929); The Dain Curse (1929); The Maltese Falcon (1930), featuring iconic private eye Sam Spade; The Glass Key (1931); and The Thin Man (1934), featuring married detectives Nick and Nora Charles. Hammett spent the rest of his career writing screenplays and "doctoring" scripts for movies, television, and radio. Despite ill health, Hammett enlisted again in the Army during the Second World War, where he edited a military newspaper; and he was deeply involved in left-wing political activism before and after the WWII era. As president of the Civil Rights Congress in New York (labeled a communist front group by the Office of the Attorney General of the United States), Hammett in 1949 posted bail for eleven men accused of communist conspiracy and in 1951 refused to identify the contributors to the bail fund during testimony before a U.S. District Court. After taking the Fifth Amendment, he was found in contempt of court and sentenced to five months imprisonment. Upon release, the IRS charged him with over $100,000 in back taxes. In 1953, Hammett once more refused to cooperate during testimony, this time before the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and was subsequently blacklisted. He lived the remaining years of his life in rural New York State before dying of lung cancer in New York, NY.

Scope and Content Note

The correspondence between Dashiell Hammett (twenty-two letters) and his "new" secretary Muriel Alexander (thirty-eight letters) overlaps some of Hammett's political and financial troubles, much of it exchanged while Hammett was in Hollywood writing a screenplay (titled Detective Story) and Alexander remained back East tending to his finances and other affairs.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Acquired 2010
Usage Restrictions
Prior arrangements are not necessary before coming to the Library, however, patrons from out of town are encouraged to communicate with the Library in advance of their visits to ascertain availability of materials.

Photocopying permitted only with permission of the Curator of Manuscripts, Lilly Library.

Preferred Citation
Hammett, Dashiell mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Series: Box 1 Correspondence

Arranged chronologically.

TLS=Typed Letter Signed; ALS=Autograph Letter Signed; AN=Autograph Note; Cc=Carbon copy.


Folder 1 From Dashiell Hammett to Muriel Alexander, 1949-1952

16 October, 1949

TLS, 1p.


14 January, 1950

TLS, 1p.


16 January, 1950

ALS, 1p.


18 January, 1950

TLS, 1p.


20 January, 1950

TLS, 1p.


23 January, 1950

TLS, 1p.


27 January, 1950

TLS, 1p.


31 January, 1950

TLS, 1p.


2 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


6 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


8 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


10 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


12 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


15 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


18 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


22 February, 1950

TLS, 1p.


7 June, 1950

TLS, 1p.


11 June, 1950

TLS, 1p.


3 September, 1950

TLS, 1p.


9 September, 1950

AN, 1p.


20 May, 1951

TLS, 1p.


29 January, 1952

TLS, 1p.


Folder 2 From Muriel Alexander to Dashiell Hammett, 1950-1951

20 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


21 [January 1950],

Cc, 2p.


23 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


24 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


25 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


26 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


28 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


31 [January, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


1 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


3 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


6 [February, 1950],

Cc, 2p.


7 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


8 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


10 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


13 February, [1950],

Cc, 1p.


15 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


16 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


20 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


22 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


24 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


27 [February, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


2 March, [1950],

Cc, 1p.


2 [June, 1950],

Cc, 1p.


5 June, [1950],

Cc, 1p.


6 June, [1950],

Cc, 1p.


9 June, [1950],

Cc, 1p.


14 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


15 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


16 [May, 1951],

Cc, 1p.


17 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


18 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


21 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


22 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


23 [May, 1951],

Cc, 1p.


24 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


28 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


29 May, [1951],

Cc, 1p.


8 June, [1951],

Cc, 1p.