Hard-Boiled History

I’m no scholar, but I take to scholarly stuff. Probably most scribes do. So I’ve pulled together this simple timeline. The idea is nothing fancy, just a plain record of the events and influences that have put the hard-boiled genre on the literary map. If I’m mindful, this ought to be an ongoing document always prone to one more citation and one more tweak. And I invite your suggestions for any critical dates I’ve missed. Sure.

c. 800
The discovery of gunpowder is made in China. The prevailing theory gives credit to Han alchemists monkeying around, trying to concoct an immortality elixir.

1440
Johannes (Johnnie) Gutenberg constructs his first printing press.

1809
January 19: Edgar Allan Poe born in Boston, Massachusetts. (The Edgar Award is named for him, not the other way around.)

1841
April 20: Graham’s Magazine publishes “Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allen Poe. The yarn introduces literature’s first, fictional sleuth, Auguste C. Dupin.

1855
The City Council of New Albany, Indiana passes a two-fisted amendment prohibiting the carrying or use of brass knuckles.

1859
May 22: Arthur Conan Doyle born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Delivery was elementary.

1872
Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company designs the Colt Single Action Army (famously known as the Colt 45) for the U.S. government. The gat provided the basis for the Snubnosed .38.

1879
Arthur Conan Doyle’s first published work appears“The Mystery of Sasassa Valley,”  in Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal.

1886
December 1: Rex Stout born in Noblesville, Indiana.

1887
Beeton’s Christmas Annual includes the story, “A Study in Scarlet” by Arthur Conan Doyle, the first appearance for Sherlock Holmes.

1888:
July 23: Raymond Chandler born in Chicago, Illinois, 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles.

1889
July 17: Erle Stanley Gardner born in Malden, Massachusetts.
Sep 14: Carroll John Daly born in Yonkers, NY.

1892
July 1: James M. Cain born in Annapolis, Maryland.

1890
Agatha Christie born in Torquay, England.

1894
May 27: Dashiell Hammett born in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

1899
W.R. Burnett is born in Springfield, Ohio.

1918
March 9: Mickey Spillane born in Brooklyn, NY

1920
H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan launch Black Mask Magazine.

1922
December: The hard-boiled detective story is born in two, back-to-back tales published in Black Mask: Carroll John Daly’s “The False Burton Combs,” and the mag’s first Dashiell Hammett tale, “The Road Home,” under the pen name, Peter Collinson.

1923
June: Carroll John Daley’s private detective Race Williams debuts in “Knights of the Open Palm” in the pages of Black Mask.
December: Erle Stanley Gardner’s first story appears in Black Mask, “The Shrieking Skeleton.”

1925
October 11: Elmore Leonard born in New Orleans.

1928
“Red Harvest” is published, the first Dashiell Hammett novel.

1929
“Little Caesar” by W.R. Burnett is published.

1930
February 14: Dasheill Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon” comes hot off the presses of Alfred A. Knopf, an odd sort of valentine.

1933
December: Black Mask publishes its first Raymond Chandler yarn, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot.” It’s the author’s first detective yarn.

1934
“The Postman Always Rings Twice” is published, the first novel by James M. Cain.

1936
January 11: Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler meet at a Black Mask dinner.
Graham Greene’s “This Gun for Hire” is published.

1939
Knopf publishes Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep.”

1947
Mickey Spillane’s “I, the Jury” is published in hardback.

1948
March 4: James Ellroy born in Los Angeles.

1949
Ross MacDonald’s “The Moving Target” is published.

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2 thoughts on “Hard-Boiled History

  1. Ben, you are impressive as you are smart in your research.

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