Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Did You Know Tuesday: Margret Rey and Curious George

Margret Rey was born May 16, 1906.  You may recognize her name as the co-author of the Curious George series of children's books, which she created with her husband Hans (H.A.) Rey.

Margarete Elisabethe Waldstein was born in Hamburg, Germany.  She studied art in college, and worked in advertising before meeting Hans Reyersbach.  The couple moved to Paris in 1936.  They were commissioned to write a children's book called Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys.  One of the characters in this book was a little monkey named Curious George.  

When the Nazis captured France, the Reys escaped on bicycle.  The few possessions they took included a manuscript of Curious George.

The Reys ended up in Spain before traveling to Rio de Janeiro and eventually settling in New York City.  They were in New York when Curious George was published in 1941.

The Curious George books were very successful, and were often published under the name H.A. Rey.  Hans illustrated most of the books, and Margret wrote the stories.  According to the Los Angeles Times, “Barely 5 feet tall and red-haired, Rey said she occasionally served as her artist husband’s human model for their impish little monkey. She would scrunch up her face, move her limbs about or even leap from one piece of furniture to another.” 

The Reys were both great animal lovers.  The had a series of Cocker Spaniels and also rescued injured animals and nursed them back to health.  Their rescues included a little chipmunk who they fed with a dropper until he was well enough to eat on his own.

They did not have children, but spread joy to children worldwide with their books.

The Reys moved to Cambridge, and Marget continued working as a writer after Hans' death in 1977.  She passed away in 1996 at the age of 90.

Fellow dachshund lovers will be interested in the book Pretzel, about a dachshund and her puppies.  It was published in 1944, written by Margret Rey and illustrated by H.A. Rey.

Did you grow up with the Curious George books - or even Pretzel?  I would love to hear your memories in the comments, below.