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Biography, Career and Legacy of Rex Stout

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Table of contents

  1. Early Childhood
  2. Education
  3. Family
  4. Career
  5. Business
  6. Activism
  7. Writings
  8. Conclusion

Early Childhood

Rex Stout was an exceptional writer, an academician, and publisher per excellence. Born on 1st of December, 1886 in Noblesville, Indiana, United States, Rex was the sixth of nine children. Less than a year after Rex’s birth, his family moved to Kansas where he grew up. Rex’s father, John Wallace Stout, was an avid reader who owned more than one thousand books. He encouraged his son to read all these books before the age of eleven. In fact, Rex Stout also read the bible from cover to cover two times before he clocked four. At 13, Rex emerged the overall winner of a spelling bee competition at the state level. Indeed, for Rex, failure was not an option.

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Rex learned a lot from his parent. His father, a teacher, had an authoritative figure and was a great disciplinarian while his mother, Luccetta Elizabeth Stout, was a very reserved person. She was a source of encouragement to Rex Stout and his siblings.


Before getting a formal school, Rex Stout had already started a great education at home. His father had an incredible influence on him as a teacher and a reader. His intelligent mother also inspired him right from his childhood. This background made Stout a great reader with an expertise in spelling. Apart from this, Stout was also conversant with mathematics. He achieved all these before clocking the age of 13. His father bought a farm in 1889 and Rex spent most of his early life on this farm where he did some chores, read many books and built his debating and speaking skills. He did some of these to avoid his father’s punishment but it later paid well for him.

For his high school education, Rex attended Topeka High School in Kansas. He then proceeded to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the state of Kansas for a higher degree. However, Stout did not complete his university education. He spent some time at the prestigious University of Kansas and later realized that he was an outstanding student who already had an amazing knowledge more than any of his contemporaries. For this, Rex dropped out of the University.


Rex’s family can be described as the family of writers and readers. His father was a teacher who read a lot and had over one thousand books in his library, his sister, Ruth Stout wrote many books on no-work gardening and Rex himself was an award-winning author and publisher. What an amazing family!

Rex married his first wife, Fay Kennedy in 1916. Fay was a resident of Topeka at the time they got married. Unfortunately, their marriage could only last for 16 years as they went into a divorce in February, 1932. But for Rex, life continued. Just eight months after the divorce, he married another amazing woman, Weinbach Pola Hoffmann in December 1932. Pola Weinbach was an incredible designer who studied in Vienna.


Today, Rex Stout is being celebrated for many things. But one that remains spectacular among Rex’s achievement and works while he was alive is the eccentric Nero Wolfe. His work is often considered to be the greatest and most outstanding fictional detective on this planet. In fact, Rex was a literary icon and the literary industry owe him a debt for his pioneering contributions to the development of literature in the world.

Rex was highly versatile and he was a man of many parts. He was a prolific writer, successful businessman, amazing publisher, naval officer, an incredible sailor and a human right activist. After leaving the University of Kansas, Rex enlisted in the US Navy where he worked as a warrant officer for two years on board the yacht of the then President, Theodore Roosevelt.


As a businessman, he worked with bank day, a business he co-founded with his brother, Robert. Bank day was a school banking system. The business became a very successful enterprise and with it, Rex cut a niche for himself in the business world. Rex did not make much money from writing as much as he made from his business model. The model he deployed to running the school banking system in 1916 fetched Rex a lot of money. With this money, he was able to travel to Paris where he worked hard in pursuit of his writing career. More than 400 schools in the United States of America accepted and adopted Rex’s school banking system. They used it to keep track of students’ accounts with the school. For this, Rex and his brother were paid royalties.


Rex also participated in activism and championed a lot of struggles especially during the World War II. He campaigned vigorously against Nazism and used his experience as a writer to champion this cause. He served as Chairman of the War Writers Board and wrote a piece titled ‘Our Secret Weapon’ to further pursue his work as an activist.


Rex Stout is remembered today largely due to his writing works and particularly for the Nero Wolfe. Right from childhood, Rex has proved his worth in the writing field. Indeed, he had a great talent in writing and he worked hard to unleash himself into the world of writing ingenuity and creativity. Between 1910 and 1911, Stout wrote and sold short poems to the Smart Set magazine. Also, between the year 1912 and 1918, this amazing young man had published 40 works in many magazines. These works were basically fictional works and they were published in magazines like Smith’s magazine and All-Story weekly.

In total, Stout wrote 57 books and these books made him a distinguished author. Some of his popular books include ‘How like a God’ published in 1929, ‘The President Vanishes’ published in 1934, ‘Hand in Glove’ published in 1937 and the Nero Wolfe novels.Awards and Recognition

Rex Stout had many awards and recognition to his credit, these include Silver Dagger Award given to him by Crime Writers Association in 1969. Also, his work, Nero Wolfe got many nominations and awards. Rex Stout was once again recognized in 2014 when he was selected to the New York State Writers Hall of Fame.

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Rex was an incredible human being who had a great knowledge in various fields. He was a successful businessman who also made an amazing image for himself as an authority in fictional writing. As if that was not enough, Rex also made the wave as an activist during World War II and he had a short stint in the navy as well. This great man died at the age of 88 in October, 1975 in Danbury, Connecticut, United States. He was succeeded by two children.

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