Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Tonight the University of South Carolina Rare Books and Special Collection celebrated Dashiell Hammett's birthday with the announcement at an invitation-only gathering of the uniting and donation of two remarkable collections of papers, books, and other materials from the Hammett family and Dr. Richard Layman, who is also my boss. Letters, posters, artwork, momentos, pictures, even the hatbox in which was discovered the earliest-known letters from Hammett to his wife in 1921. USC has been building a wonderful collection of papers of detective and crime fiction writers, including James Ellroy, George Higgins, Elmore Leonard, and now Hammett. And my sources tell me there will soon be more. This is in addition to impressive collection of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Burns and other important authors. It was very interesting to meet and introduce myself to Hammett's daughter and two of his grandchildren. Dr. Layman gave a nice overview of Hammett and his importance, and family members built on that introduction by talking about Hammett's political activism, the personal items collected and donated, and some remembrances of the man himself. It was a nice ceremony, including the proclamation by the City of Columbia of Dashiell Hammett Day. If you get a chance to visit USC soon, slip into Cooper Library and back to the Special collections at the rear and check out the exhibits. The preservation of historical and literary sources to academics and the general public is one of the most important duties of university libraries, and USC has been in the forefront both locally and nationwide. Kudos to all who helped bring the collection here.

It was also nice because I got to spend some time with Dr. Jessica Kross, as well as meet the son of Augusta Baker.

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