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American author, who wrote over 70 detective novels, 46 of them featuring eccentric, chubby, beer drinking gourmet sleuth Nero Wolfe, whose wisecracking aide and companion in crime solving was Archie Goodwin. Stout started his literary career as a writer for the pulps, publishing romance, adventure, some borderline detective stories, but after 1938 all his fiction was in the mystery field.
Rex Stout war born in Noblesville, Indiana, as the son of John Wallace Stout and Lucetta Elizabeth Todhunter, who were Quakers. He was educated at Topeka High School, Kansas and at University of Kansas, Lawrence. From 1906 to 1908 he served in the United States Navy as a Yeoman on President Theodore Roosevelt's yacht. He worked as an office boy, store clerk, bookkeeper, and hotel manager (1916-1927). Stout invented the banking system for school children that was installed in 400 cities throughout the USA. In 1916 he married Fay Kennedy of Topeka, Kansas. They separated in 1933 and Stout married in 1933 Pola Hoffman of Vienna.
Stout's first stories appeared in the 1910s among others in All-Story Magazine. He went to sell articles and stories to a variety of magazines. In 1927 he became a full-time writer. Stout lost his money had made as a businessman in 1929. After publishing four moderately successful novels, among them HOW LIKE A GOD (1929), an unusual psychological novel written in the second person, Stout turned to the form of detective story. His great achievement was Nero Wolfe, the 286-pound detective, who was introduced in the novel FER-DER-LANCE (1934), which appeared first as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post. It was followed by THE LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN (1935), which was adapted into screen in 1937. Wolfe's daily beer consumption is a marvel, he has yellow silk pyjamas, and he loves orchids. Goodwin's primary function is prodding his immense employer into motion.
The phenomenally fat private eye gained wide popularity from the start. Stout wrote prolifically one Nero Wolfe adventure in a year - from the 1940s some times several - until the end of his life. During the course of his career Stout mastered a variety of literary forms, including the short story, the novel, and science fiction, among them a pioneering political thriller, THE PRESIDENT VANISHES (1934), in which the disappearance of the US President causes a near-future crisis. In an earlier work, UNDER THE ANDES (1914, All-Story Magazine), Stout described an underground lost world of dwarf Incas.
During the WW II Stout cut back on his detective writing, joined the Fight for Freedom organization, and wrote propaganda. He hosted three weekly radio shows, and coordinated volunteer services of American writers to help the war effort. After the war Stout returned to his Nero Wolfe novels, and took up the role of gentleman farmer on his estate at High Meadows in Brewster, North of New York City. He served as President of the Authors Guild and of the Mystery Writers of America. In 1959 he received Grand Master Award from the latter organization.
Stout was active in liberal causes, and ignored a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee at the height of the McCarthy era. In later years he alienated many liberal friends by his hawkish stance on Vietnam - his contempt for communism was denounced frequently in his works. Stout died on October 27, 1975. - The writer Robert Goldsborough has continued Nero Wolfe' adventures from the late 1980s.
Information source: wikipedia