Rex Stout on FBI's List
The Doorbell Rang (click the link for information about the book, as well as about "the book within the book," The FBI Nobody Knows)
This Wolfe mystery novel is specifically cited as a reason for earning Rex Stout a place on the FBI's "Not to Contact List," an operation under Hoover's personal direction which was in turn cited as evidence of “Political Abuse of Intelligence Information” in the landmark 1976 Senate Report, Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans -- Book II. Rex Stout was one of many American writers closely watched by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, The FBI had collected 301 pages of data mostly about his association with the ACLU and when he served as president of the Authors League. J. Edgar Hoover considered Stout an enemy of the FBI and therefore a Communist or a tool of Communist-dominated groups and 'an alleged radical'. About one hundred pages of the dossier are about his novel The Doorbell Rang.
[“The Doorbell Rang" had "presented a highly distorted and most unfavorable picture of the Bureau." (Memorandum from M. A. Jones to Bishop, 7/11/72 -- [Paul Wolf, reporting on the "Cointelpro" FBI operation]
These are the directly relevant lines:
The Bureau also maintained a “not to contact list” of “those individuals known to be hostile to the Bureau.” Director Hoover specifically ordered that “each name” on the list “should be the subject of memo.” 91 This request for “a memo” on each critic meant that, before someone was placed on the list, the Director received, in effect, a “name check” report summarizing “what we had in our files” on the individual.
Shortly after the publication of The Doorbell Rang), Rex Stout addressed the audience at the 1966 Books and Authors Luncheon in New York City as if they were his "Committee on Grievances."
91Memorandum from Executives Conference to Hoover, 1/4/50. Early examples included historian Henry Steele Commager, "personnel of CBS," and former Interior Secretary Harold Ickes. (Memorandum from Mohr to Tolson, 12/21/49.)
- Press Coverage of The Doorbell Rang:
- Material from the Rex Stout Archives at Boston College includes lighthearted renderings of proposed cover designs for The Doorbell Rang from his publisher, Viking Press, as well as reviews from P. G. Wodehouse and Russel Crouse.
- From Stout family archives, a document obtained under the FOIL (Freedom of Information Law), heavily redacted (sections blacked out for "security purposes").