Richard Lee Strout was born in Cohoes, New York, on March 14, 1898, and raised in Brooklyn. He graduated from Harvard University in 1919. He moved to England to work in journalism in 1919, returned to the United States in 1921, and held various newspaper positions for several years before beginning an association with The Christian Science Monitor that was to last until his retirement in 1984. He received a master's degree in economics from Harvard in 1923. He won the George Polk Memorial Award for national reporting in 1958 and a special Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1978. The Special Award cited "distinguished commentary from Washington over many years as staff correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and contributor to The New Republic."
Strout was a Washington resident at age 92, when he died there on August 19, 1990, eleven days after hospitalization following a fall.