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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A ten-mile run through Dashiell Hammett’s early Baltimore haunts

While readers usually associate him with San Francisco, Dashiell Hammett spent his formative years in Baltimore. His family settled there in 1898 when he was four and he didn’t leave permanently until he turned twenty-six. Baltimore was where Hammett cut his teeth as a twenty-one-year-old detective with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. James Wright, the older gumshoe who showed him the ropes, would later become the memorable character The Continental Op.

Scenes from Baltimore infuse Hammett’s fiction. The city in which The Glass Key is set is never named but anyone familiar with the street names recognizes it as Baltimore.

Commemorating yesterday's fiftieth anniversary of Hammett's death, Patrick Maynard charts a ten-mile run that visits ten sites that figured in his life or fiction—and in the process shows how much Baltimore has changed in the last century.

Also of interest: Find other sites from Hammett’s childhood at The Baltimore Literary Heritage Project

Related LOA works: Dashiell Hammett: Complete Novels; Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings

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