Rex Todhunter Stout


Rex Stout


An old midwestern farmer once ponderously announced that no ear of corn ever had anything but an even number of rows in it, normally twelve. Out of sheer contrariness, Stout maintained this was not the case, although, as a midwesterner himself, he knew that what the farmer said was true. It was winter when this conversation took place, and the farmer made a $100 wager with Stout that he would not be able to produce ears of corn with odd numbers of rows come the following harvest.

In the spring Stout went out to his corn field and carefully cut out a single row from no fewer than 100 young ears of corn. At harvest time he found that he had about a dozen eleven-rowed ears on which no trace of his operations could be detected. He sent the “proof” off to the farmer, who duly mailed back a check for $100. Stout returned the check, saying that he could not win money by betting on a certainty.


There are two kinds of statistics: The kind you look up and the kind you make up.

~Rex Stout
Biographical Note: 
Rex Todhunter Stout was born in Noblesville, Indiana, of Quaker parents. He started reading books at a very early age. He was also a mathematical prodigy. At the age of nineteen he was an accountant. At twenty-three he was running a hotel and at twenty-six he was a successful writer. In his thirties he ran a multi-million dollar banking business. At the age of forty-seven he created , a 286-pound private detective with a penchant for orchids.

Inimitable master of detective fiction, Stout wrote 73 mysteries. His career also included writing three novels, serving as chair of the War Writer’s Board, and mobilizing public opinion against the use of nuclear devices. In 1959, he was Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America.