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. After a brief time on campus 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 for pulp fiction magazines and also tried his hand at a variety of jobs. With his brother, Robert
, 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.
Following the 1929 stock market crash he lost a great deal of the money he had saved. He returned to the United States and continued to write serious novels for a few more years. In 1932 he moved from New York City to High Meadow, the house he built on the Connecticut-New York state line. In 1934 Rex Stout published his first Nero Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance.
More than seventy other Nero Wolfe books and stories followed. During World War II, Rex Stout waged a personal campaign against Nazism serving as chairman of the War Writers Board, wrote and broadcast the CBS radio program "Our Secret Weapon,"
and was a 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