Margret Elizabeth and Hans Augusto Rey, the creators of Curious George, became American citizens on this date in 1946. They were German Jews who met in Brazil and married in 1935. Living and creating children’s books in Paris, they fled that city by bicycle at the outbreak of World War II, carrying with them the illustrated manuscripts of their first Curious George books, which were published in New York in 1941. The Reys wrote seven Curious George stories collaboratively, with Hans doing the illustrating and Margret most of the writing, but only “H.A. Rey” was bylined on the covers of the books until much later. Their books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold some 20 million copies. In 1989, Margret Rey established the Curious George Foundation to foster children’s creativity and prevent cruelty to animals. A creative telling of their escape from Nazism can be viewed at the Jewish Museum website.
“We loved monkeys, and the first thing we did when we went to a new city was to visit the zoo. Hans was the artist, a genius and a dreamer who loved animals. I was the midwife. I’d write the text and supervise the drawings.” —Margret Rey