Rex Todhunter Stout was born in Noblesville, Indiana, December 1, 1886. He was the sixth of nine children born to John and Lucetta Todhunter Stout. Educated in Kansas, he was recognized as a prodigy in arithmetic, and he studied at the University of Kansas. Stout quit school to enlist in the Navy where he spent two years as warrant officer on board President Theodore Roosevelt's yacht.
After the Navy, he began to write and tried his hand at a variety of jobs. With his brother, Stout devised and implemented a school banking system. Bank Day proved a very successful venture and allowed Stout to move to Paris and write full-time.
He published three novels before he turned to the mystery genre. The books received favorable reviews but were not best sellers. Stout returned to the United States and built a house on the Connecticut-New York state line. Fer-de-Lance
, Stout's first Nero Wolfe novel, appeared in 1934.
More than seventy other Nero Wolfe books and stories followed. During World War II, Rex Stout waged a personal campaign against Nazism as chairman of the War Writers Board, master of ceremonies of the radio program, "Speaking of Liberty," and member of several national committees. After the war, he resumed writing Nero Wolfe novels. In 1959 he won the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. Rex Stout died October 27, 1975 at the age of 88. A month before his death, he published his final Nero Wolfe book, A Family Affair