Richard Layman attended Indiana University, the University of Louisville, and the University of South Carolina, where he received his PhD in 1975. Among his books are nine on Dashiell Hammett, including the definitive bibliography; Shadow Man, the first full-length biography; Hammett’s Selected Letters (with Julie Rivett as Associate Editor), Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade, and The Hunter, with Rivett. Layman’s books have twice been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. A trustee of the Literary Property Trust of Dashiell Hammett, Layman has also written or edited books on Ring Lardner and John Dos Passos, as well as general works on American literature.
Layman is president and editorial director of Bruccoli Clark Layman, producer of award-winning reference books since 1978, including the 375-volume (to date) Dictionary of Literary Biography, called the most impressive literary reference series in publishing history by Library Journal; the social histories American Decades (twelve volumes) and American Eras (eight volumes); Gale Literary Guides (twenty-seven volumes); History in Dispute (twenty-one volumes); Research Guide to American Literature (seven volumes); Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography (nine volumes); and Schomburg Studies in Black Culture, among other works. In 2010 Layman and Dennis Poupard joined together to form Layman Poupard Publishing (LP). Layman is Managing Director of LP, which produces 111 volumes annually of the Literature Criticism Series for Gale Cengage, among other works. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with his wife, Nancy.