After he was born, the family moved to Wakarusa, Kansas. He was educated in a county school and Stout briefly attended the University of Kansas, but he left to enlist in the Navy, and spent the next two years as a warrant officer.
Rex Stout began to write freelance articles and worked as a sightseeing guide and an itinerant bookkeeper in 1908. In 1927 Mr. Stout retired from the world of finance and left for Paris to write serious fiction. He wrote three novels that received favorable reviews before turning to detective fiction. His first Nero Wolfe novel, “Fer-de-Lance”, appeared in 1934. It was followed by many others, among them, “Too Many Cooks”, “The Silent Speaker” and “The Doorbell Rang”, which established Nero Wolfe as a leading character on a par with Earle Stanley Gardner's famous protagonist, Perry Mason. Stout wrote at least one historical romance, some other novels, and mysteries other than these Nero Wolfe novels.
During World War II Rex Stout resumed writing his Nero Wolfe novels. Rex Stout died in 1975 at the age of eighty-eight. A month before his death he published his seventy-second Nero Wolfe mystery, “A Family Affair”. Ten years later, a seventy-third Nero Wolfe mystery was discovered and published in Death Times Three.