Rex Stout was the sixth of nine children. In 1916 he started the Educational Thrift System with his brother Robert. The business did well enough that Rex Stout was able to retire from it in 1927 to fulfill his dream of writing as his full time occupation. Following the 1929 stock market crash he lost a great deal of the money he had saved. He continued to write serious novels for a few more years, but in 1934 published his first Nero Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance.
Click here for Robert Stout's obituary from The New York Times.
And click here to view Rex Stout's letterhead from the Educational Thrift Service! Note the address was The Woolworth Building, then the tallest building in New York City.
Rex Stout's sister Ruth was an author and lecturer. She invented or refined a "no work" method of gardening that involved a year-round mulch to eliminate weeding and pesticides in the garden. She also made a video, Ruth Stout's Garden, which won a Red Ribbon, American Film Festival in 1976. It is well worth viewing to appreciate her humor and lack of orthodoxy on a wide range of subjects, including gardening. It is available for sale (VCR + now on DVD) at: http://www.bountifulgardens.org/Ruth-Stouts-Garden-Video-DVD/productinfo/BGE-1615/.
And her methodology lives on:
Ruth Stout provided so much material (and entertainment) to John McAleer for the Stout Biography, that he published Queen's Counsel, Conversations with Ruth Stout on Her Brother Rex Stout (Pontes Pres, 1987).
Also read: Ruth Stout Interviews Rex Stout regarding "Why Does He Grow Irises?" (June, 1956 Popular-Gardening)