Hammett: All He Wrote


 And now, on Birthday 120, it is time to do a recount — we’ll call these The Zobeck Statistics. As anyone who has been on the tour knows, I personally count The Big Knockover as a novel (if a short novel), and I know some people will want to keep “The Parthian Shot” and “Immortality” in the list as full-fledged stories (if super-short vignette-style stories). Pulp dealer Paul Herman was just on the walk this past Sunday, and kicked over the idea of anything being taken off the list.

Hashing it out, that’s half the fun.

Still, niceties aside, here’s the up-to-date count on Hammett’s known output — five or six novels, depending — around eighty short stories.

And to do the official tally, once again we give you the Master Record Keeper and Prince of the Pure Texts, Terry Zobeck:

It’s been three years to the month since I began posting guest blogs here on the Mean Streets on the pure texts of Hammett’s short stories. Back then I provided a brief overview of Hammett’s stories and the edits Dannay made to them. At that time I noted Hammett had published 66 short stories, the final one, “A Man Named Thin” (Hammett’s original title was “The Figure of Incongruity”), appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine just days after his death on January 10, 1961.

With the publication of The Hunter and Other Stories we can now update this overview. The new volume includes 15 stories from the Hammett archives at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin that were unpublished during his lifetime. This would take the total to 81; however, after reading Hammett’s article “Vamping Samson”, I think we should remove from the total two very short pieces — “The Parthian Shot” and “Immortality” — that Hammett himself did not include among his stories; he considered these two pieces to be “short miscellaneous matter.”

So, Hammett’s published oeuvre now consists of the following material:


  • 79 short stories (including “The Man Who Loved Ugly Women,” which is unlocated);
  • 5 novels (the first four of which were serialized in earlier states in 17 issues of Black Mask, and the final one in a bowdlerized version in Redbook);
  • 1 edited short story anthology, Creeps by Night;
  • 4 poems;
  • the pamphlet, The Battle of the Aleutians;
  • 9 non-fiction articles;
  • 45 book reviews (plus the unpublished review of Finnegans Wake);
  • 2 short miscellaneous pieces;
  • 1 book of letters (and 5 letters to the editor of various publications that have not been collected);
  • 1 screenplay (Watch on the Rhine) and 6 screen stories;
  • 2 volumes collecting the comic strip Secret Agent X;
  • 3 introductions to books (the Modern Library’s edition of The Maltese Falcon, Wind Blown and Dripping — the collection of cartoons from the Adakian, and The Communist Trial — the second printing only);
  • Editorship of the Adakian, the Aleutian Islands U.S. Army camp newsletter (including 13 pieces signed by him);
  • 13 miscellaneous political statements; and
  • 3 classified ads for editing services.


This list does not include the fragmentary material published in The Hunter (the ARC and e-book version contain additional such material) or the unfinished first version of The Thin Man, or “The Thin Man and the Flack” (a photoplay with captions supposedly written by Hammett that appeared in the December 1941 edition of Click), advertising copy for Samuels Jewelry Company, political petitions signed by Hammett, interviews, or his contributions to Lillian Hellman’s plays.

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