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Rex Stout

Author.  Born: December 1, 1886, Noblesville, Indiana.  Died: October 17, 1975, Danbury, Connecticut.

Rex StoutBorn in 1886, the sixth of nine children, Rex Todhunter Stout was a babe in his mother's arms when he came to Kansas. The family settled in 1887 on a 40-acre farm near Wakarusa. Before his seventh birthday young Rex had read all 1,200 books in his father's library, which included the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Holy Bible. Rex's father, John Wallace Stout, taught school in Shawnee County for six years. In 1895 he was appointed county superintendent of schools and moved his family to Topeka.

Young Rex, who later achieved fame as creator of the Nero Wolfe detective stories, was short of stature but long on brains. He took delight in correcting his teachers or challenging them to furnish proof of certain statements, which hardly endeared him to teachers. Stout's biographer, John McAleer of Boston College, dubbed his subject during his high school years, 1899 - 1903, as "Mr. Know-It-All in Knee Pants."

In 1905, two years out of high school, Rex enlisted in the navy as a yeoman and was assigned to the presidential yacht, The Mayflower. His duties there were purely of a clerical nature but when home on leave, he gave the Topeka Daily Capital an account of his exploits in the navy that indicated Rex's flair for fiction.

Buying his early discharge from the navy, Stout started writing short stories and poetry while living in New York City. When Nero Wolfe first appeared in 1934 the great detective was kitchen-testing prohibition beer, and 42 volumes later, he was deploring the outrage of Watergate. During the last decade of Stout's life, he had more books in print than any other American author. At the time of his death, the New York Times stated the Nero Wolfe books had appeared in 22 languages and sold more than 45 million copies. Rex Stout died October 27, 1975, at the age of 88.

Entry: Stout, Rex

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2004

Date Modified: January 2013

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