Rex Todhunter Stout, 1886 - 1975
Born: 1 December 1886, Noblesville, Indiana
Died: 27 October 1975, Danbury, Connecticut
The Stouts moved to Topeka, Kansas within months of Rex's birth. The son of Quaker parents, at age four he had read the entire Bible, twice. At age nine he was known as a prodigy in arithmetic. At thirteen he was the state spelling champion. He attended Topeka High School and the University of Kansas at Laurence, then joined the Navy and served as warrant officer on Teddy Roosevelt's yacht for two years. He devised a school banking program in 1916 that was used in over 400 US cities, while he started his writing for the pulps, touching on romance, science fiction, and mystery. After three novels, he wrote Fer-de-lance, his first mystery novel featuring the fat (a seventh of a ton) stay-at-home genius detective Nero Wolfe and his energetic legman Archie Goodwin. That was in 1934, a month before his death his 72nd Nero Wolfe mystery, A Family Affair, was published. Generally a liberal, although with a hawkish tilt, Stout was on the original board of the ACLU. His output slowed during World War II as he coordinated the work of American writers for the war effort and had a syndicated radio program, Our Secret Weapon, by which he meant the truth, in which he gleaned and rebutted the nonsense in Axis propaganda broadcasts. At the height of the McCarthy era he received a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee, and ignored it. The feud with the FBI that surfaced in his 1965 The Doorbell Rang was real, he was on Hoover's of "those individuals known to be hostile to the Bureau".
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Rex Stout quotes:
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- A character who is thought-out is not born, he or she is contrived. A born character is round, a thought-out character is flat. permalink
- A Dickens character to me is a theatrical projection of a character. Not that it isn't real. It's real, but in that removed sense. But Sherlock Holmes is simply there. I would be astonished if I went to 221½ B Baker Street and didn't find him. permalink
- A guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality. permalink
- A person who does not read cannot think. He may have good mental processes, but he has nothing to think about. You can feel for people or natural phenomena and react to them, but they are not ideas. You cannot think about them. permalink
- A schedule broken at will becomes a mere procession of vagaries. permalink
- All my important decisions are made for me by my subconscious. My frontal lobes are just kidding themselves that they decide anything at all. All they do is think up reasons for the decisions that are already made. permalink
quoted in Life (10 December 1965)
- Any man who undertakes to write a play is either a damned fool or a hero, I don't know which. When you write a book, you pull it out of the typewriter and that's that. When you write a play you've got to go on with the producer and the director and the actors and the rehearsals and the ... permalink
- Any spoke will lead an ant to the hub. permalink
- As between the intolerable and the merely distasteful, I must choose the latter. permalink
- Doyle stokes in a thousand shrewd touches with no effort at all. Wonderful. permalink
- Every book takes me from 35 to 41 days to write. I don't know why that is. I've tried to get it down to 30 or 31, depending on the length of the month, but it won't work. I don't drink while I'm writing because it fuddles my logical processes, but when I finish a book I go down to the kitchen and pour myself a big belt. permalink
- Every Sherlock Holmes story has at least one marvelous scene. permalink
- Everyone has something they don't want anyone to see; that is one of the functions of a home, to provide a spot to keep such things. permalink
The Red Box (1936)
- Everything in a story should be credible. permalink
- I can dodge folly without backing into fear. permalink
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