late 1800’s – mid 1950’s
Mickey Spillane, the king of the pulp novelists in the post-WW II period, sold an estimated 200 million copies globally. He was born in Brooklyn, NY.
Despite the fact that his books were international bestsellers, as a writer Spillane was almost universally reviled by literary critics. He and his novels were attacked not only for their alleged illiteracy but were denounced by the U.S. Senate's Kefauver Commission as promoting juvenile delinquency. Explaining the extraordinary appeal of his novels, Spillane simply said, "People like them." He countered his critics by saying they were jealous of his success. "I'm a writer, not an author," was Spillane's mantra all through his literary life. "The difference is a writer makes money." As late as 1999 Spillane told an audience at London's National Film Theatre, "Authors write, writers get paid." When he was asked about his literary influences, Spillane replied, "Dollars".
As a pulp writer, Spillane's mantra was "violence will outsell sex every time." By combining them he created a formula for success that begat a book publishing phenomenon.
Spillane's innovation was to inject gory violence into P.I. stories for a generation of 16 million men who had just been through the most violent war in history. These new mass-market novels featured lurid covers that would attract a customer at what became the ubiquitous steel-wire racks filled with paperbacks that sprouted up at bus stations, lunch counters, shops and newsstands all over the world.
Spillane's books always featured a great hook in the opening pages, as he believed that "the first page sells the book". His narratives are first-person spoken monologues, directly addressed to the reader.
Spillane published his first Mike Hammer pulp, the infamous, I, the Jury, in 1947. Written in nine days, the book introduces Hammer as a tough-talking, hard-drinking bruiser.