James Mallahan Cain (July 1, 1892–October 27, 1977) was an American journalist and novelist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labeling, he is usually associated with the hard-boiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the “roman noir.”
He was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of a prominent educator and an opera singer. After graduating from Washington College where his father, James W. Cain served as president, in 1910, he began working as a journalist for The Baltimore Sun.
He was drafted into the United States Army and spent the final year of World War I in France writing for an Army magazine. On his return to the United States, he continued working as a journalist, writing editorials for the New York World and articles for American Mercury. He also served briefly as the managing editor of The New Yorker, but later turned to screenplays and finally to fiction.
Although Cain spent many years in Hollywood working on screenplays, his name only appears on the credits of three films, Algiers, Stand Up and Fight, and Gypsy Wildcat.
His first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice was published in 1934. Two years later Double Indemnity was serialized in Liberty magazine.
He continued writing up to his death at the age of 85.