Rex Stout: Famous Crime Writer from Noblesville, Indiana

Rex Stout is arguably one of the most famous crime writers in the history of United States literature. He is the creator of Nero Wolfe, genius hero of the fictional detective novels.

Rex Stout was born in Noblesville, Indiana in1886 of Quaker parents, who later moved the family of eleven to Kansas. Encouraged to read and study, the author won a state spelling bee championship at the age of thirteen. The old-time social values of his forebears hit Stout hard, and he entered into social activism as early as the 1920’s.

Rex Stout’s sister apparently was heavily influenced by their teacher-father as well. She penned several non-fiction works on the subject of gardening, as well as some social commentaries.

A video clip of the movie adaptation of “The Doorbell Rang” by Rex Stout, a notable person in Noblesville, Indiana

Until his death in 1975, Rex Stout cranked out at least one Nero Wolfe detective novel per year, but he also wrote other pieces, including poetry, short stories, science fiction and, during World War II, propaganda for the American war effort through a group called “Fight for Freedom.” This famous Noblesville resident also worked on the first American Civil Liberties Union board, the Friends of Democracy group and the Writers War Board, working to support the newly formed United Nations.

Interestingly, Rex Stout‘s liberal leanings eventually attracted keen attention from the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, who amassed hundreds of pages in the writer’s file. The FBI considered Stout a dangerous enemy and a communist sympathizer, at the very least. Fully one-third of the FBI file on Stout is devoted to his 1965 novel, The Doorbell Rang, which, in the FBI’s words, “presented a highly distorted and most unfavorable picture of the Bureau.”

Rex Stout did a stint as president of Mystery Writers of America, as well as president of the Authors’ Guild. He was invited to participate in many radio and television broadcasts and received dozens of honors for his literary works.

Rex Stout’s official Nero Wolfe fansite can be found at

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