Bio

A SHORT  BIOGRAPHY OF FRANCIS HAMIT

Francis Hamit was born in 1944 in New York City to a medical student and his wife, a nurse. His father, Harold F. Hamit, MD, was drafted into the U.S. Army even before he finished medical school at New York University, commissioned and remained in the Army until 1968 when he retired at the rank of Colonel.  By that time he had become one of the top-ranked surgeons and medical educators in the world.  His service included war-time tours in the Philippines and Korea and postings to several different US Army post in the United States.  This provided his son a wide variety of educational experiences growing up, and made him exceptionally self-reliant for his age.  While a student at Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC, he had his first behind-the-scenes experience in a theatrical production, and after moving to the San Francisco, CA area in 1960 and joining the elite theatre department at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley,  pursued a theatrical career until he was 21, mostly as a stage manager and technician.  At the age of 19, he also became a professional photographer, both as an artistic endeavor and as a way to make money.  He was an Equity Apprentice at the famed Alley Theater in Houston, Texas in 1964 and the Company Stage Manager for the Marin County Shakespeare Festival in 1965.  He continued his theatrical studies at the University of Iowa from 1965 to 1967, where a course in Playwrighting from Professor Howard Stein redirected his energies and career to creative writing. He was soon admitted to the undergraduate section of the Iowa Writers Workshop.

In 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, he joined the Army Security Agency, an elite, top-secret military intelligence command with worldwide operations, and after training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, volunteered to serve in Vietnam, where he was a clerk in a specialized aviation company in the Mekong Delta. While not in a traditional combat job, he did experience frequent mortar attacks and sometimes went in harm’s way as a top-secret courier. He received a Certificate of Achievement for superior work as a clerk while in Vietnam.

From there he was reassigned to the Headquarters of the US Army Security Agency, Europe, in Frankfurt, Germany.  After a brief stint in the Inspector General’s office, he was recruited to work as a reporter and photographer for the award-winning  unit newspaper, The Frankfurter Forum.  This was the start of a long career as a journalist and, from the start, he showed great initiative in finding and covering stories for a readership composed of some of the brightest people in the Army.  In 1970 he was promoted to be both the Editor of the newspaper and the Non-commissioned Office in Charge of Public Information for the entire command, the youngest and lowest-ranked enlisted soldier to hold such a position in Europe.  This position, learned on the job and on the fly, made him the primary media relations point of contact for ASA Europe and entailed additional responsibilities of a highly sensitive nature.  In 1971 he was awarded a special certificate for Journalistic Excellence by the US Army Security Agency.

In 1971, he returned to the University of Iowa to complete his Bachelors  degree and enter the graduate section of the Iowa Writers Workshop where he primarily studied with Vance Bourjaily and John Legget, with additional classes with Robert Anderson, the playwright, and William Price Fox.  To support himself, he opened a photography studio and later became a real estate broker and owned an art supply store.  After completing his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1976, he moved to the Chicago area, where he took a job in the security industry while also working from time to time as a freelance journalist.

In 1978 he attended his first science fiction convention , a recreational and literary activity that he continues to this day. He began to also write plays and screenplays as well as fiction and journalism.

In 1981, he was hired as one of about 4,000 contributors to the revisions of the 15th Encyclopaedia Britannica, specializing in short articles about intelligence agencies and significant personalities, and then in theatrical biographies, and finally, in the final phases, a series of articles about various forms of horse-drawn transportation (93 articles in all).  The rigorous standards for research informed his later writing and also led him to two dramatic stories that would later become major topics in his writing, the espionage careers of Confederate spy Belle Boyd, and of Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan poet and playwright.

In 1985 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career in film and television.  To support himself he worked various other jobs and continued to write as a journalist, mostly for trade magazines.  Hundreds of articles, essay, columns, and reviews were produced in the next two decades, mostly with editorial assistance from his roommate Leigh Strother-Vien, who also became his business partner.  In 1988 his stage play about Christopher Marlowe, MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy, was produced in Equity Waiver by the Shakespeare Society of America, to favorable reviews.  In 1993, he published a best-selling non-fiction book, Virtual Reality and the Exploration of Cyberspace.  He subsequently worked as a Contributing Editor for Advanced Imaging and other trade magazines in the computer technology, security and entertainment industries. In 1996, his first published piece of fiction appeared in the Red Rock Review, a literary magazine.  During this time, he also sometimes worked as a consultant to various businesses.

In 1998, after the death of his father, he began to research the Belle Boyd story in depth and in 2002, after moving to Pine Mountain Club, CA, began a series of novels not just about her, but other women who worked as spies for the Confederate Government.  In 2006, the first version of The Shenandoah Spy was published online as a serial by the Amazon Shorts program.  This was followed by a publication in trade paperback in 2008, and a second novel in 2011, The Queen of Washington, about Confederate spy Rose Greenhow.  In 2012, he published a thriller, MELTDOWN, based on an old motion picture script. Other novels are planned in the next few years, both in the thriller and historical fiction genres.

His activities as a publisher began in 2004, as he explored the new market of online publishing by recycling more than 60 previously published magazine articles under the Francis Hamit Electronic Publishing brand.  The assumed windfall of electronic publishing has yet to materialize, but he now also publishes both e-books and print books under the trade name BRASS CANNON BOOKS in partnership with Leigh Strother-Vien. While they intend eventually to publish books by other authors, he has a tremendous backlog of his own material to publish first, and is using that as a test-bed before engaging other talents.

In 2009, he arranged with the University of Iowa Libraries to house and curate his personal papers.  He is divorced and has no children of his own.  Currently he is working on more novels to publish and also on a motion picture based on his 1988 stage play about Christopher Marlowe.

He is a member of the Military Writers Society of America, The Association of Former Intelligence Officers, The Historical Novel Society, and the Shakespeare Society of America, where he serves on the Board of Directors.  His recreational activities include playing tournament poker and attending science fiction conventions, where he is frequently a panelist.  He has been continuously  listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World since 1998.

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