Nero Wolfe is the eccentric genius featured in 72 stories (33 novels, 39 novellas) published between 1934 and 1975.
Rex Stout stated that he is the literary agent of Archie Goodwin, who writes the stories in the first person. Nero Wolfe, along with his household staff of Archie, Fritz Brenner, the chef, and Theodore Horstmann, the "orchid nurse," reside in Mr. Wolfe's double-wide brownstone townhouse on West Thirty Fifth Street in New York City. Mr. Wolfe rarely leaves the brownstone and hopes to never leave it on business.
This section celebrates the many facets of Mr. Wolfe and his world. See the menu options above for a plethora of tidbits.
It's an obscure reference from a little-known, posthumously published Wolfe novella, Bitter End. It has the same general plot as Bad for Business, one of three non-Wolfe novels featuring Tecumseh Fox.
Tingley's Tidbits is a fictitious, prepared food manufactured by Mr. Tingley's prepared food company. It is a key plot device.
Bitter End was published in Corsage (1979, James Rock Publishing), as a limited printing of a few thousand. It has been out of print since its initial print run. Bitter End was also included in Death Times Three (1985), which contains two other Wolfe stories previously published only in magazines.
We use it as the title for this section to encompass information about all those wonderful Wolfean tidbits that keep many of us coming back, again and again, to reread the stories. Following are a few very random Wolfean goodies, but there are TWENTY pages of data about the Wolfe milieu -- use the menus above to browse through them all.
- Was Louis Adamic the Inspiration for Nero Wolfe? [click the invitation to the right to see an enlargement]
This Slovenian born activist achieved national acclaim in America in 1934 with his book The Native's Return, which was a best-seller directed against King Alexander's regime in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Rex Stout is quoted in his biography (Rex Stout, A Biography (Little, Brown, Boston, 1977) as saying, 'I got the idea of making Wolfe a Montenegrin from Louis Adamic. Louis told me that Montenegrin men are famous for being lazy.' He add that everything he knew about Montenegro he got from his friend Adamic in person or from the later's book. Click here to read the Louis Adamic article on Wikipedia.
The invitation to the right from Rex and Pola Stout to Louis and Stella Adamic was found in the Louis Adamic Archives, housed at Princeton University.
- Why Does Nero Wolfe Never Age? on The Moonlight Detective Blog [click to read the answer]
- What did Nero Wolfe do in Europe during World War I?
Read award-winning espionage author Gayle Lynds' keynote address at the 2010 Bouchercon Rex Stout Banquet: "Nero Wolfe, the Spy"
- Why Does Nero Wolfe Like Yellow?
Archie to Hackett: "No. You prefer yellow. It's the sun, the spring sun that makes things green. You're Mr. Wolfe. You wear yellow shirts." Help Wanted, Male - A&E TV Series, A Nero Wolfe Mystery, June 16, 2002
From Criminal Brief: The Mystery Short Story Web Log Project by Melodie Johnson Howe:
"...Conversely, I've always had a problem with Nero Wolfe's yellow shirt which due to his heft is "the size of a tent." The size is believable. But for me the color is not. If Wolfe's taste is reflected in his subtle masculine surroundings then why would he wear yellow? But when I tried to come up with a better color for Wolfe I couldn't. Red? God, no. Blue? Too business like. Black? Too gangsterish, and it would make him look as if he's trying to hide his girth. Wolfe would never think of such a thing. White? He'd look like he's wearing a wedding dress. Hunter green? Not bad. But the color carries with it a certain kind of upper class pretension. And that is definitely not Wolfe. How about pastels? Pink? That might make his determined bachelorhood suspect. Orange? I don't even want to think about that. I guess given the choices Rex Stout did come up with the best color. But I still can't keep from flinching when I read the description."
According to Rex Stout's daughter, Becky, Rex Stout's favorite color was yellow.
- Name some things that are yellow.Answer: sofa, office chairs, pajamas, dressing gown, sheets, darts with yellow feathers, red and yellow rug in the office, yellow smock in the plant rooms and yellow chalk for marking the pots, yellow electric blanket..... Your turn to finish the list.
- Why does Nero Wolfe like orchids?
Archie tells us why in his article, "Why Nero Wolfe Like Orchids," from Life Magazine (September 15, 1963)
- What and where is the Churchill Hotel?
It is generally agreed that the "Hotel Churchill" referenced in several of the Wolfe stories is actually the Waldorf-Astori.a
- Here is a treasure trove from it archives: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/waldorf-astoria-archives.
- From The Gazette: The Journal of The Wolfe Pack: MEET ME AT THE CHURCHILL by Robert Lopresti
- BY STORY: Victim(s), Murderer, Weapon, Motive, Client, Location, Fee
- Wolfe Arrests
- Wolfe Foods
- Victims & Weapons
- Places & Things
(and Nick Charles, Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto)
Esquire Magazine, 1962, printed the following tour de force. Click an image to view an enlargement.
As many of us know, there was never a Heron automobile. A fan from Germany, Lutz-R ü diger Busse, has a credible theory on the origin of the naming of Mr. Wolfe's vehicle. An early engineer from Alexandria, Heron, is credited with inventing the first steam powered automobile. More information can be found on Wikipedia. See Lutz-R's Gazette site (in German) for a LOT of Wolfean information.
Breck Swords submits the following theory, which has additional credence given that in some later books Archie chauffeurs Mr. Wolfe in Wolfe's Cadillac:
From 1930 to 1932, when Stout began writing the Wolfe novels, the hood ornament on the Cadillac and LaSalle cars was a stylized heron, as noted on several Cadillac history web sites.
For additional images, just search Google or Bing images for "Cadillac Heron Hood Ornament," using the quotation marks to narrow the search.
Rex Stout owned and drove Cadillacs.
For A & E TV Series autos: A French forum of car buffs catalogued Les Voitures de Nero Wolfe (voiture is French for car) from the international version of the A&E series that they saw in France. The screen shots of the cars are from “Wolfe Stays In” (the title for the combined stories of “Eeny” plus “Disguise:” Internet Movie Cars Database.
Nero Wolfe featured in the MIT Mystery Hunt—an annual puzzlehunt competition.
See Beowulf — An MIT Puzzle (or The Goodwin Manuscript)
At last, proof that Mr. Wolfe is alive and well.
As we all know from the movie Miracle on 34th Street, the judge found in favor of Edmund Gwynn (let us please ignore the remake) as Santa Claus, based upon the US Post Office delivery all its Christmas mail to him.
In 2008, at the Wolfe Pack post office box a letter arrived from the Financial Institution, Capital One, addressed to Nero Wolfe. Inside was a letter pitching a credit card. The salutation was "Dear Nero Wolfe." If a major financial institution and the US Postal Service both acknowledge Mr. Wolfe's existence, who are we to disagree? I say it is about time our government got something right.
Click the image to read the entire letter.
It is one of the most baffling international puzzles in memory. According to a recent Associated Press news report, seven of the
260 surviving copies of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus' momentous 1543 book, in which he argued that the Earth goes
around the sun and not vice versa, have been stolen from university and scientific libraries worldwide over the past several years.
The copies of "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres)" are worth $400,000 apiece, but are
virtually impossible to fence. So, wonder Interpol and police agencies everywhere, why have multiple thieves, or one thief very
gifted at disguise, used various ruses to take the tomes from cities as far apart as Krakow, Poland; Kiev, Ukraine; Stockholm; St.
Petersburg, Russia - and Urbana- Champaign, where a copy recently vanished from the University of Illinois? Intrigued, we
enlisted some of America's top mystery writers to consider the purloined book caper and how their sleuths might approach the
Read Robert Goldsborough's "Nero Wolfe and the Missing Manuscripts" from the Chicago Tribune Archives (April 11, 2000)
James Rock, Publisher of a number of books relating to Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe, was asked, "Is the corpus just a good read or do you consider that Wolfe and company have influenced your lives in a significant way? Did the books affect your attitudes, ideals or opinions -- and if so, to what degree? What did you take away with you." Following is his answer:
"I started reading Nero Wolfe in 1972-3, which led to having a friend, Michael Bourne, go out in April 1973 to interview Rex Stout for a little arts/literary magazine, "Hubris: A Gazette of the Arts" (now at http:www.hubris.cc). We were publishing off campus from our bookstore, which led to starting book publishing in order to publish the Interview and a novella "Bitter End" in a book "Corsage: A Bouquet of Nero Wolfe and Rex Stout" which led to buying typesetting equipment which led to starting a prepublication service business for other publishers which led to developing techniques for interfacing micro-computers to typesetting equipment (1980) which led to computer consulting which led to moving from Indiana to the Washington DC area which led to revitalizing our publishing company which led to publishing a new edition of Professor John McAleer's biography of Rex Stout and a release of the audio tape of the Rex Stout interview, which led to publishing other mystery books to releasing a new edition of Professor J. Kenneth Van Dover's book "At Wolfe's Door, A Guide to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Novels," which will be released in the next two weeks. Of course there was the intellectual stimulation and the rapport with the characters in the corpus and with Rex Stout, Wolfe Pack members, etc. that was the impetus for all of the above. Other than that, I can't think of any influence at all."James Rock died in 2014.
Rex Stout's Physical Description of Nero Wolfe
Courtesy of the Stout estate; pulled from Rex Stout's own archives, here is rarely seen memorabilia: Rex Stout's own description of his beloved characters, written in 1949 and not meant for publication at the time:
Height 5 ft. 11 in. Weight 272 lbs. Age 56.
Mass of dark brown hair, very little greying, is not parted but sweeps off to the right because he brushes with his right hand. Dark brown eyes are average in size, but look smaller because they are mostly half closed. They always are aimed straight at the person he is talking to. Forehead is high. Head and face are big but do not seem so in proportion to the whole. Ears rather small. Nose long and narrow, slightly aquiline. Mouth mobile and extremely variable; lips when pursed are full and thick, but in tense moments they are thin and their line is long. Cheeks full but not pudgy; the high point of the cheekbone can be seen from straight front. Complexion varies from some floridly after meals to an ivory pallor late at night when he has spent six hard hours working on someone. He breathes smoothly and without sound except when his is eating; then he takes in and lets out great gusts of air. His massive shoulders never slump; when he stands up at all he stands straight. He shaves every day. He has a small brown mole just above his right jawbone, halfway between the chin and the ear.